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Park softball: Splitsville for Wolfpack

Park senior pitcher Amber Galloway takes aim against Hastings in Cottage Grove on Friday, April 18. The Wolfpack lost the home opener 13-3 after winning the first two games of the season. (Bulletin photo by Patrick Johnson)

There were some ups and downs for the Park softball team last week.

Park beat Suburban East Conference foe Stillwater 9-8 on the road on Monday, April 14, before losing 13-3 to SEC-leading Hastings in its home opener on Friday, April 18, at Charlie Whitbred Field in Cottage Grove.

In the win over Stillwater, even though the wind chill factor read 18 degrees, the Wolfpack (2-1; 2-1 SEC) bats got off to a hot start by scoring three runs in the top of the first inning. After Rachel Suter lined out to short to lead off the game, Michaela Thiefoldt started the scoring with a sharp single up the middle. Thiefoldt immediately stole second base, then, easily scored on Sam Flack’s double to right-center to put the Wolfpack up 1-0 on the Ponies (3-3; 3-3 SEC). Senior pitcher Amber Galloway helped her own cause with a single that plated Flack, then took second on a wild pitch. Senior Molly Swanson stepped up to the plate and immediately ripped a single up the middle to pad Park’s lead at 3-0.

Galloway retired the Ponies in order in the bottom of the first to keep Park’s three-run lead intact. In the top of the second, catcher Autumn Mortenson rifled a double down the left field line to lead off the second. A sacrifice bunt by Kathy Melton, advanced courtesy runner Alayna Silvis to third, which brought up the top of the order for the visiting Wolfpack again. Suter and Thiefoldt both walked, and when the first pitch to Park’s three hitter Flack went off of the backstop, Silvis scampered home to put Park up by four runs. Flack hit into a fielder’s choice which allowed Suter to score and as Galloway popped up to the infield which looked as if the inning would end, the 25-mile-per-hour wind blew the infield pop-up across the infield which was then mishandled by the Ponies’ third baseman and extended Park’s lead by five.

Galloway cruised through the second frame as well, saying that she enjoys “throwing in this kind of weather.”

Park failed to score in the third, but the Ponies did not. Stillwater took advantage of four hits, an error, and a walk to plate four runners themselves to make the score 6-4.

The Wolfpack answered back immediately in the top if the fourth for three more runs when Suter singled, Flack walked, and Galloway, Swanson and Paige Hill singled to widen the lead to 9-4.

The Ponies were shut down for the most part by Galloway until she twisted her knee in the sixth inning while batting for the Wolfpack. Galloway had to be carried off the field, and Park brought freshman pitcher Hanna Mortenson to the circle to hold off a late Stillwater rally and close out the game 9-8.

“Anytime you have your starting pitcher go down with an injury, it heightens your concern. When it is your senior leader that has been there throughout the years for this team, it makes it even tougher,” Park head coach Bob Loshek stated. “Hanna had to come in last year as an eighth grader to pitch games for us, she did a nice job last year, just as she did tonight to get the save in relief.

Flack, Galloway and Swanson finished the game with two hits and two RBIs apiece

Galloway was able to return to the field on Friday against Hastings for the Wolfpack’s home opener.

The Good Friday weather at 4 p.m. started with the sun shining and temps nearing 50 degrees. When the first inning was over with, however, the temperature dropped and the Wolfpack were down by four runs.

No matter how hard the Park batters would hit the ball, there was always a defensive answer on the part of the Raiders defense.

“We were down 4-0 and our first three hitters hit three of the hardest outs that I have seen this year,” Loshek said. “Some days, those balls fall in, some days, they don’t.”

Led by Florida International recruit Michaela Mills, Hastings’ offense was rolling. The Raiders (5-0; 5-0 SEC) put up another four runs on a grand slam home run in the second to up their lead to 8-0. Park did answer back in the bottom of the third when Suter, Thiefoldt, Flack, Galloway, and Swanson all singled to cut the deficit to 8-3. Park’s Paige Hill then hit a rope that was snagged by the Raiders’ second baseman Mills to end the threat.

Hastings then added five more runs in the next few frames off reliever Hanna Mortenson to best Park by a score of 13-3.

“I thought that our girls did a good job of hanging with Hastings for a while,” Loshek said. “Yet in the end, it just wasn’t in the cards.”

Weather permitting, Park was set to take on Roseville (1-0; 1-0 SEC) on Monday, April 21, after the Bulletin went to print. Next, the Wolfpack is set to take on rival East Ridge (1-5; 0-4 SEC) on Wednesday, April 23, in Woodbury.

-Patrick Johnson

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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