Softball: Getting offensiveThe Tigers have gone on an offensive tear, averaging over nine runs a game during a seven-game winning streak that has once again pushed them to the top of the Missota Conference at 7-1.
By: Matt Steichen, The Farmington Independent
What a difference a couple weeks can make.
Farmington softball coach Heather Ballstadt can find no sign of her Tiger team that, as recently as April 20, was sitting at 1-2 and had scored just six runs in its first three games of the season. The Tigers have since gone on an offensive tear, averaging over nine runs a game during a seven-game winning streak that has once again pushed them to the top of the Missota Conference at 7-1.
"We do have confidence at the plate. Hits are contagious and we have seen a lot of hits," Ballstadt said. "I have seen clutch hits from a lot of the girls, which is great to see. I have confidence that any batter could hit in the clutch in any given game."
Plenty of players came through in run-scoring situations in last Thursday's 14-3, 9-4 doubleheader sweep of Hutchinson. The Tigers totaled 22 hits and scored in eight of 11 offensive innings in upping their team batting average to a robust .379.
Sam Jensen went 6 for 7 in the twin bill, raising her area-leading average to .735. Teammate Sarah Gunderson went 4 for 7, increasing her average to .545.
The Tigers will put their seven-game winning streak on the line Friday night at Prior Lake, a team they beat 4-2 for their first victory of the season back on April 15 in Farmington. The Lakers are just a half-game back in the league standings at 6-1 at the season's midway point. The full story on that game will appear in next week’s edition of the Farmington Independent.
Hutchinson touched up Farmington starter Amanda Karppi for a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, but the Tiger offense responded in time to extend the team's winning streak to seven games with a 9-4 home win.
Jensen and Gunderson got the Tigers going in the top of the first with a pair of doubles, then Sam Ankrum made it 2-0 with an RBI single.
Farmington took the lead for good with a three-run top half of the third inning. Jensen started the frame with a single, Kirstee Rotty walked and Gunderson reached on an error before Sydney Silk cleared the bases with a three-run double that made it 5-2. Hutchinson responded with single runs in the third and fifth, but couldn't put together a big inning.
Jensen put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth with a three-run home run, her third of the season, that made it 8-4. The bomb capped another big game for Jensen, who went 4 for 4 with three runs scored and three RBIs. Ankrum added three hits to the team's 11-hit attack.
Karppi allowed four runs on eight hits over the first 4 2/3 innings to earn her team-leading fourth victory of the season. Megan Nekowitsch came on for her first pitching appearance of the season and got the last seven outs without surrendering a run.
The Tigers needed just four offensive innings to pile on 14 runs on 11 hits in the doubleheader opener.
Jensen one again reached base four times and scored four runs out of the leadoff spot, but the offensive star was Gunderson. The junior ripped an RBI triple and scored in the first, slapped a two-run single in the second, connected on her first home run of the season, a three-run shot, as part of a five-run third and walked in the fourth. The six RBIs upped her team-leading total to 15.
No. 9 hitter Shannon Doherty came around to score three runs and Rotty and Ankrum each added two hits for the Tigers.
Karppi overcame a shaky start to go the distance on the mound. After allowing the first three batters to reach and score on two hits and three walks in the top of the first, she held Hutchinson scoreless over the final four innings. Karppi retired the last three batters of the first in order, then held the Tigers to two hits the rest of the way while striking out four.