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Softball: Tigers snag first win

The Farmington softball team got a long weekend to feel good about its first win of the season.

Then Brittany Lauterbach showed up and rained on another one of the the Tigers' parades. Last spring as a sophomore, the Prior Lake right-hander ended Farmington's run toward a seventh-straight Missota Conference title with a two-hit shutout that clinched the league championship for the Lakers. She was back at it again Tuesday night in Prior Lake, striking out 14 batters and allowing just one hit in a 4-0 Lakers victory.

The Tigers had 10 hits in a 7-3 win over Hutchinson in their home opener Thursday afternoon, but a fourth-inning double by senior Sarah Gunderson was the only offense they could produce against Lauterbach.

"She's a darn good pitcher. She throws very hard and mixes it up very well. Prior Lake should do very well in the section this year with a pitcher like that," Farmington coach Heather Ballstadt said. "We need to work on hitting the ball when it comes in a little faster. That's what it comes down to. Putting the ball in play is key and we didn't do that against Prior Lake."

The Lakers were able to put the ball in play against Amanda Karppi, who was back on the mound after missing the first two games of the season. She ended up allowing four earned runs on eight hits while striking out three over six innings. Four of those hits came as the Lakers tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth.

"For her first game back I thought she did very well," Ballstadt said. "She got the ball up a couple of times in the fifth inning and that was the difference. They had two bloops to score two runs and two solid hits to score the other."

Karppi was backed by an errorless defense that featured returning all-conference infielder Sydney Silk back at third base. Silk missed the first two games of the season with a leg injury and another all-conference infielder, Kirstee Rotty, is still on the bench with a finger injury she suffered on a base hit in the team's season-opening 5-1 loss at Shakopee.

"Defensively we've had to try to move a lot of people around," Ballstadt said. "It makes us very young and inexperienced and quiet in the infield. We'll see who can step up and be a little stronger leader in the infield for us."

Inexperience didn't stop Ashley Betzold from making big contributions for the Tigers in Thursday's win. The eighth grader stepped up in Karppi's absence and struck out 11 batters over six innings in a 7-3 win over Hutchinson.

"I thought she did a really nice job out there," Ballstadt said. "She was composed for an eighth grader."

Betzold was staked to a big lead after the offense produced five runs in the bottom of the second inning. Shannon Doherty started the inning with a walk and came around to score the first run on a single by Danielle Muelken. Free passes to Kelsey Betzold and Brittney Zuther loaded the bases and with two outs last year's metro hitting leader Sam Jensen came through with a two-run single. Two more runs scored on a double by Megan Nekowitsch.

The Tigers added single runs in the third and sixth innings as they racked up 10 hits. Jensen finished 2 for 3 with a triple and Doherty went 2 for 2 and reached base all four times.

The Tigers (1-2) will try to get back to the .500 mark this afternoon when they host New Prague for a Missota Conference contest. The Trojans lost to Prior Lake 5-0 in their season opener.