With seven starters returning, rival coaches expected the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team to contend for Mid-State Conference and Section 8AA titles this spring.
The Panthers lived up to those expectations by repeating as conference champs, reaching the section finals for the sixth time in school history and setting a school record for wins in a season by going 24-3.
All that success led to postseason recognition for several Park Rapids players.
Park Rapids won the Mid-State title for the fourth year in a row with a 10-0 record as eight players received all-conference honors. Seniors Kaisa Coborn, Kendra Coborn, Natalie Kinkel and Kylee Pachel joined juniors Rilee Michaelson and Katelyn Weaver as all-conference players while sophomore Shailyn Pachel and freshman Abby Morris received all-conference honorable mention consideration.
In the 10 conference games, Kylee Pachel hit .688 (22 for 33, including six doubles, one triple and three home runs) with 22 runs scored and 25 RBI. Kaisa Coborn batted .531 (17 for 32, including seven doubles and one homer) with 24 runs, 19 RBI and six stolen bases. Kinkel batted .467 (14 for 30, including three doubles and three triples) with 25 runs, 10 steals and seven RBI. Kendra Coborn hit .273 (9 for 33) with 14 runs, seven RBI and three steals. Michaelson went 10-0 with a 1.64 ERA after allowing 11 earned runs on 28 hits and 14 walks with 58 strikeouts in 47 innings while batting .467 (14 for 30, including three doubles and one homer) with 13 runs and 12 RBI. Weaver batted .500 (12 for 24, including a homer) with 12 runs and 11 RBI. That group was among six of the 18 players earning Mid-State honors.
Shailyn Pachel hit .345 (10 for 29) with 12 runs, eight steals and five RBI while Morris hit .313 (10 for 32) with 12 runs, 12 RBI and five steals in the 10 conference games.
Kylee Pachel, Kaisa Coborn, Kinkel and Michaelson were among 25 players earning Section 8AA honors while Kylee Pachel (First Team), Michaelson (Second Team) and Kaisa Coborn (Honorable Mention) received Class AA All-State honors.
During the playoffs, Kaisa Coborn hit .500 (12 for 24, including three doubles and two homers) with seven runs, four RBI and three steals; Michaelson went 5-2 with a 2.38 ERA and hit .318 (7 for 22) with two runs and four RBI; Kylee Pachel hit .250 (6 for 24) with three runs and three RBI; and Kinkel batted .240 (6 for 25) with four runs and five RBI in leading the Panthers to the Section 8AA finals.
Receiving team awards were Kaisa Coborn (Coaches Award), Morris (Rookie of the Year), Kinkel (Spirit Award), Kylee Pachel (Silver Slugger), Michaelson (Golden Glove) and Kendra Coborn (Hardest Worker and Panther Ambassador).