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Park softball: Win over Cretin-Derham Hall closes out rough week for Wolfpack

The Park softball team lost three games last week, but closed things out a the right note with a 4-3 extra-inning win over Suburban East Conference foe Cretin-Derham Hall at Charlie Whitbred Field in Cottage Grove on Saturday, April 26.

Park sophomore catcher Autumn Mortenson provided the game-winner against Cretin-Derham Hall as the Raiders’ shortstop dropped a pop fly in the bottom of the eighth inning, which allowed pinch runner Meghan Kuemmel to score from third base and end the game.

Park head coach Bob Loshek said he believed the game would end with Mortenson at the plate and a runner in scoring position.

“Autumn has been hitting the ball really hard in practice and games,” Loshek said. “ I figured it would end with her, which it did. Whether it was the 20 mph wind or the ball heading into the sun at that particular time of the day, whatever it was, it was just enough to distract the defense … Lately we have been on that side of the outcome. Today, it bounced our way instead of against us.”

The two teams were held scoreless until the visitors broke into the scoring column first in the top of the fourth inning. Cretin’s first hitter of the inning got on base with a Wolfpack error. After a walk and a single to put the Raiders up 1-0, pitcher Amber Galloway had some work in front of her to keep the scoring to a minimum. The senior struck out the next batter, then retired the next two batters on ground outs to second to keep it a one-run game. 

Park (3-4; 3-4 SEC) answered right back in the bottom of the frame with three runs of their own when sophomore Gwen Warling, who is just coming off a lower leg surgery, led off with a shot hit into the right-centerfield gap. That was followed by an intentional walk to Galloway and an infield hit by senior Molly Swanson to load the bases with nobody out. With one out, senior Paige Hill delivered a line drive up the middle to put Park up by a score of 2-1. Mortenson drilled the next pitch into deep left field to score Swanson on a sacrifice fly putting the Wolfpack up by two. 

Cretin-Derham Hall (2-7; 2-7 SEC) came back with two more runs in the sixth inning with a lead-off double, two singles and two fielder’s choices, to knot the score at 3-3. 

The game stayed tied into the eighth thanks in part to Galloway and her defense, when in the top of the eighth, the Raiders sent six batters to the plate only to come away with nothing.

The bottom of the eighth had plenty of fireworks, however, as Warling led off with a line drive single for her third hit of the game. She was immediately replaced by Kuemmel as a pinch runner.

“Gwen has done some amazing things the last couple of years here with all of the injuries and surgeries that she has sustained,” Loshek said. “For her to miss most of the first two-thirds of the season and come in and do what she has done, speaks volumes about what kind of a ball player that she is. So, when she led off with that single in the bottom of the eighth, it was time to rest those legs of hers and get a little more speed on the bases.”

After a bunt attempt to move the winning run into scoring position failed, Swanson placed a bunt perfectly down the first base line to put Wolfpack runners at first and second with one out. Following the bunt, the first pitch to Thiefoldt was in the dirt and without hesitation, Kuemmel dashed for third., setting up Mortenson’s game winner.

“That was exactly why we took Gwen out,” Loshek said. “The ball got away from the catcher by about 18 inches and Meghan bolted to third base. By next season we expect Gwen to be back to her old speedy self.”

Warling was 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and Galloway earned the win in the circle for the Wolfpack. 

In Park’s other games last week, the Wolfpack fell 6-3 to Roseville on Monday, April 21, at home, 13-3 at rival East Ridge on Wednesday, April 23, and 2-1 to White Bear Lake on Friday, April 25, in Cottage Grove.

In Monday’s loss to Roseville (4-0; 4-0 SEC), the Raiders put together a six-hit, two-walk fifth inning to plate five runs and pull away from Park. 

Park took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and Galloway cruised through the first couple of innings on the hill. But, after a run on two hits and two walks in the third inning, Roseville tied the score at 1. 

After Roseville’s five-run fifth, Park plated another run in the bottom of the sixth when Mortenson drove home Swanson with a hit up the middle to cut the deficit to 6-2. Park added a run in the bottom of the seventh on another RBI single from Mortensen to make it 6-3, but the Wolfpack weren’t able to bring any other runners home on the day. 

There weren’t many highlights for Park in the 10-run loss to East Ridge on a rainy, windy day in Woodbury.

Park started with a 1-0 lead when Suter singled to lead off the game and moved to second on a Gwen Warling sacrifice. Flack and Galloway were walked and Swanson came up with a sharp single to put Park up by one. However, East Ridge (4-5; 3-5 SEC) erupted for nine runs in the first inning, added three more in the second inning and one run in the fifth to end the game early with the 10-run rule. East Ridge compiled 12 walks in the win.

“Our pitchers gave up way too many walks,” Loshek said. “Even though our defense made some mistakes in the field behind them, our pitchers know that they cannot give up a base on balls to start the inning each inning and that a good outcome is going to happen.”

Park used all three of its pitchers in the game including eighth-grader Delaney Young, who, while pinch-hitting in the fifth inning hit a bullet over the head of the East Ridge right fielder for a stand up double, notching her first varsity hit. 

“Delaney came in and got her feet wet, as well as her shoulders, head, etc., with the heavy rains,” Loshek said. “She got her first hit of I am sure will be many as a Park softball player. It will be a lot of fun to watch her grow as a person and as a player throughout the next four and a half years.”

In the 2-1 loss to White Bear Lake, Park was held to three hits by the Bears (1-7; 1-7 SEC). Warling led the Wolfpack, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. 

Weather permitting, Park was scheduled to play Mounds View (3-2; 2-2 SEC) on Monday, April 28, and rival Woodbury (5-2; 4-2 SEC) on Tuesday, April 29, after the Bulletin went to print. Next, the Wolfpack are scheduled to travel to Forest Lake (4-0; 4-0 SEC) on Wednesday, April 30. 

—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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