Park softball: Wolfpack suffers rough week, looks to rebound as season wraps upIn a trying week, the Wolfpack couldn’t find respite on the softball diamond as Park lost three Suburban East Conference games falling to 6-13 overall and 5-13 and ninth place in the 10-team SEC.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
It was an emotion-filled week for the Park girls softball team as the Wolfpack celebrated Prom, but also played with heavy hearts with the loss of friend and Park graduate Nick Bibeau, who died in a car crash last week.
In the trying week, the Wolfpack couldn’t find respite on the softball diamond as Park lost three Suburban East Conference games falling to 6-13 overall and 5-13 and ninth place in the 10-team SEC.
Park fell 9-1 to SEC-leading and third-ranked Forest Lake on Monday, then lost 12-2 to Hastings on Wednesday, before losing 5-0 to Mounds View on Thursday.
Last time Park faced Forest Lake (18-1; 16-1 SEC), the Rangers’ starting pitcher junior Michelle LaCasse threw a no-hitter in a win over the Wolfpack. However, on Monday, the Park hitters came out swinging. Park started the top of the first with a Mary Turitto two-out double, but was left stranded at second.
“We hit the ball all over the park, but Forest Lake played good defense and shut down every time we threatened,” Park head coach Bob Loshek said.
After Forest Lake took a 2-0 in the bottom of the first off of Park pitcher Kennedy Henderson, the Wolfpack got a run after Kayla Hemmingson singled, moved to second on a Kathy Melton single and when Rachel Suter knocked yet another single, Hemmingson cut the lead to one.
But, that’s as close as Park would get in the game.
The Rangers went on to add to their one-run lead by adding three runs in the fourth inning, two runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth inning.
“We hit the ball just as hard as they did today,” Loshek said. “We just couldn’t get them to fall at the right time.”
All in all Park had six hits in the game including eighth grader Autumn Mortenson’s first varsity hit of her career.
“Autumn has done a wonderful job behind the plate for us this year,” Loshek said. “Her skills will only improve as she gets stronger . She is a great kid and we couldn’t be happier for her.”
In the loss to Hastings, the Raiders (7-10; 7-10 SEC) struck early, scoring three runs in the top of the first. Park responded with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning, but that’s as close as Park would get as Park’s pitchers struggled to throw strikes, and when they did, the Park defense didn’t back them up committing four errors that led to seven Hastings runs.
“Our pitchers are learning that you may not have your best stuff every day,” Loshek said. “If you did, there wouldn’t be a pitcher out there with a loss or two. What we want to learn from games like this is that you need to take it one pitch at a time as well as one out at a time. At times this year we have tried to get three outs on one play instead of giving up a base or a run and getting an out that later on in the inning that would minimize the damage. Instead, we give up a run or two and before you know it, our opponents score five or six runs and it puts our team in a rather large hole.”
In the loss to Mounds View, Park sophomore pitcher Amber Galloway threw a five-hitter against the Mustangs (12-6; 11-6 SEC), but the Wolfpack’s bats were kept at bay for the whole game and the defense didn’t play perfectly. Park had only three hits and committed two errors in the loss.
“Amber pitched a great game,” Loshek said. “Especially after not having very good stuff the day before. She hit her spots and mixed up her off speed pitches very well, we just couldn’t help her out.”
Park looked to right the ship this week, taking on Cretin-Derham Hall (7-10; 7-10 SEC) on Monday after the Bulletin went to press, in the regular-season finale.