PREP SOFTBALL: Panthers hang on

By David Merrill


TRACY – For the second day in a row, the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Panthers were able to hang on for a one-run win over Russell-Tyler-Ruthon, winning 11-10.

In a game which defense was at a premium, the Panthers managed to find some in the top of the 7th as Samantha Westberg caught a line drive and tagged the runner who was leading off of first and that followed dropped third strike tag out at the plate to strand the would-be tying run at third base.

With the win, the Panthers will move on in the Class 3A section tournament and matchup with Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian on Tuesday.

TMB coach Paul Skoglund praised his team for the way they performed at the end of the game.

“It was a fun way to end the home season,” Skoglund said. “They made us earn it at the end and we got all three seniors into the game. It’s been fun because we’ve been hitting the ball really well the past few games. We have three seniors and a nice mix of younger players. They were all pretty excited about a well played game.

The Panthers carried an 11-7 lead into the top of the 7th inning before Ashlynn Wabecke drove in Nicole Enemark with an RBI single to cut the score to 11-8. That was followed by an RBI single from Vanessa Vercruysse and an RBI single from Jo Neilsen, cutting the score to 11-10 before the Panthers pulled the double play.

Ashlynn Wabecke had the offensive highlight in the game for the Knights, smashing a three-run home run over the centerfield fence to cut the score to 9-7 TMB in the top of the 5th inning.

Wabecke finished 3-for-4 from the plate with five RBI. Kaylie Neilsen also had a very productive day at the plate for the Knights, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI.

RTR coach Christine Steinbach was pleased with the way her girls fought in the final inning and felt they made improvements as the season went along.

“I felt like we did a good job of trying to come back in that last inning and getting some key hits,” Steinbach said. “We just fell short. I feel like we made progress hitting from the start of the season. We improved a lot. Pitching wise, Nicole (Enemark) improved a lot. She didn’t have a lot of walks. “

Evelyn Dolan lead the Panthers offensively with three RBI while Kylie Lessman and Samantha Westberg each had two. Those three all had doubles, along with Lexi Nordsiden in the game.

Lessman struck out five in the pitching circle while walking none while Enemark recorded one strikeout and one walk for RTR.

TMB’s quarterfinal game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. start at Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian on Tuesday.