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Softball: Farmington team is off to a stellar start

Farmington pitcher Ashley Betzold pitches against Rosemount in a scrimmage last Tuesday. Betzold struck out 17 batters during two wins last week.

So far, so good for the Paul Harrington coaching era in Farmington.

The Tiger softball team is off to a 2-0 start after an 8-1 rout of Holy Angels Monday in Richfield. Harrington's squad opened the season with a head-turning 3-2 victory over defending Missota Conference champion Shakopee last Thursday in Farmington, ending a six-game losing streak against the Sabers during which it scored a total of five runs.

"The girls were very excited about the game and looking forward to playing them," Harrington said. "The girls were determined to win the game. All the credit goes to them."

The Tigers didn't let up against a Holy Angels team they shut out twice last season. The offense came alive for eight runs over the final four innings and Ashley Betzold picked up her second straight win, allowing five hits and striking out eight Stars batters in the complete game.

Betzold also jump-started the Farmington offense. After Holy Angels plated a run to take the lead in the top of the fourth, Betzold drew a walk to spark a three-run rally. Two straight errors brought around pinch runner Molly Berdan with the tying run and Taylor Haakana and Erin Wurst followed with RBI singles.

Betzold started a four-run fifth inning with another base on balls. Berdan once again raced around the bases on a double by Allie Rice and Amber Doyle and Taylor Yousse followed with RBI singles. Yousse eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-1.

Rice knocked in another run with a single in the sixth. Rice and Brooke Searles each finished with two of the team's nine hits.

It took the third time through the lineup before the Tigers figured out Shakopee's pitcher in last Thursday's opener. Trailing 2-1 and having tallied just three hits heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers strung together four hits to rally for the one-run victory.

Betzold once again started the rally with a single. She moved into scoring position on a base hit by Doyle, then pinch runner Hailey Monroe came around to score the tying run on a Yousse single. Haakana capped off the inning by driving in Doyle with the running run.

Betzold worked a scoreless seventh to preserve the lead. She struck out nine and the Tiger defense recorded the other 12 Shakopee outs without committing an error.

"Ashley pitched a solid game," Harrington said. "Shakopee had some really good hitters. She got into some jams and she pitched us out of most of them with minimal damage."

Farmington took the early lead on an RBI double by Rice in the first, but Shakopee answered with single runs in the fourth and sixth.

The Tigers are back in action tonight against Northfield. First pitch is set for 4:30 at the high school fields.