Park Rapids sweeps Pequot Lakes, repeats as Mid-State champs
With the Mid-State Conference title on the line, the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team delivered.
The Panthers needed a sweep in their conference finales Monday at Pequot Lakes to win the Mid-State title outright for the third year in a row. Park Rapids fulfilled that feat by following a 7-2 win in the first game with a 4-0 five-inning victory in the second game.
Park Rapids closed conference play with a 9-1 record. Detroit Lakes ended at 8-2 while Pequot Lakes fell to 6-4 in Mid-State play. Rounding out the conference standings are Crosby-Ironton at 3-5, Aitkin at 2-6 and Staples-Motley at 0-10.
"We are pleased with taking both games from Pequot Lakes. We can play at a higher level than we did against them, but we played well enough to win two," said Park Rapids head coach Marion Goeden. "We knew we needed both games to win the conference. We didn't want to share the trophy with Detroit Lakes. Now we need to prep for playoffs. There are some quality teams in our section and we still have room to improve."
In the first game, the Panthers capitalized on six Pequot Lakes errors to score four unearned runs.
After Alex Kotaska's RBI single gave Pequot Lakes a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Panthers took a 2-1 lead in the third when Natalie Kinkel led off with a bunt single and scored on Kendra Coborn's RBI double. Coborn scored on an error.
Park Rapids took a 5-1 lead in the fifth when Kinkel led off with another bunt single and scored on another RBI double by Coborn, who stole third and scored on a wild pitch. Tara Johanning singled and scored on an error.
The Patriots scored an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to cut the gap to 5-2 before Park Rapids concluded the scoring in the sixth with two unearned runs. Kinkel walked and scored when Coborn reached on an error. Coborn scored on Kaisa Coborn's grounder.
Kinkel went 3 for 3 and Kendra Coborn went 2 for 4 as each scored three runs apiece to lead the Panthers' eight-hit attack. Rilee Michaelson allowed one earned run on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven in a complete-game effort.
Michaelson followed with a four-hit shutout as the Panthers completed the sweep.
Park Rapids took a 2-0 lead in the second on singles by Johanning and Katelyn Weaver, an RBI grounder by Kylee Pachel and an RBI single by Lexi Hinkley-Smith.
Kinkel's solo home run, Kendra Coborn's single and Johanning's run-scoring grounder concluded the scoring in the third.
Kinkel went 2 for 3 and Weaver went 2 for 2 as the Panthers finished with eight hits.
Pequot Lakes ended the regular season with an 11-5 record.