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Battle of ranked teams ends in sixth inning

ALDEN — The NRHEG and Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons softball teams met Thursday night in a battle of two area teams with records above .500.

The Wolverines came in with an 8-4 record, while the Panthers entered at a perfect 9-0.

While the game remained close in the opening innings, the Panthers showed why they are ranked No. 5 in the Class AA rankings, racking up 11 runs in the sixth innings alone. The Wolverines, ranked No. 8 in Class A had no answer for the Panthers, who ended the game early, winning 15-0.

The Wolverines made quick work of the Panthers in the first inning, allowing only one base runner, who was hit by the pitch. The Panthers answered right back with a strong defensive half, however, setting down the first three batters they saw.

NRHEG junior Brenlee Knudson started off the top half of the second with a single and was quickly advanced by senior Grace Tufte, who laid down a perfect bunt. Two at-bats later, Knudson was batted in by Pressley Nielsen with a sacrifice hit.

The inning went to the bottom half with the Panthers on top 1-0.

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons senior Grace Erickson led off the bottom half of the inning by reaching first base after a fielding error by NRHEG. However, the Wolverines failed to take advantage of the base runner, recording outs in the next three at-bats.

The Panthers slightly extended their lead in the third inning. Freshman Hallie Schultz reached by error in the second at-bat, and was followed by a single from junior Sophie Stork. After a strikeout in the next at-bat, Knudson stepped up to the plate and recorded her second hit of the game, this time a two-run RBI double to left field. A quick out following the double ended the inning with the Panthers now leading the Wolverines 3-0.

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons continued to struggle at the plate in the bottom half of the inning, as Sami Armstrong was the only player to reach base, using a one-out single to get on.

The Panthers again widened the gap in the fourth inning after junior Ava Kyllo reached on a bunt, and was soon batted in on a two-out single by Schultz.

The Wolverines failed to match as senior Abbie Theusch was the lone player to reach base in the bottom of the fourth.

Neither team was able to score in the fifth inning, both only getting one base runner on.

The top of the sixth inning is when the Panthers put the pedal to the metal, scoring 11 runs and blowing the game wide open. Junior Kylie Doyle recorded an RBI double, senior Cloie Arndt hit in one run with a single and Knudson continued her stellar game with a bases-clearing three RBI double. Stork and junior Haley VanWinkle also hit in one run each in the inning.

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons needed at least six runs to extend the game in the bottom half of the inning, but three quick outs left the Wolverines with no hope of a comeback.

Stork started in the circle for the Panthers, pitching all six innings amd allowing no runs on two hits and striking out five.

Kaetlin Bedickson was the starting pitcher for the Wolverines. Pitching six innings, Bendickson allowed 15 runs on 14 hits, while striking out one and walking one.

The Panthers move to 10-0 with the win and will be back in action Monday when they travel to take on Maple River. The previous time these two teams met this season, NRHEG defeated Maple River 9-0.

The Wolverines move to 8-5 on the season and will host St. Clair/Loyola and Cannon Falls in a double header Saturday starting at 10 a.m.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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