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Softball: Tigers fighting for 1st place in Missota

It took extra innings to decide Monday night's battle for first place in the Missota Conference softball standings.

But in the end it was Chanhassen that took advantage of Farmington's season-high four errors and remained undefeated with a 5-4 eight-inning victory on its home field.

"Both teams played and fought hard until the end. They just managed to score one more run than us in the extra inning," Farmington coach Paul Harrington said. "We had some defensive lapses during the game. Fielding has been one of our strong points this season, so hopefully this game was more of an exception and we get back to playing strong defense."

The Tigers (5-1) took the lead in the top of the first when Brooke Searles singled, moved into scoring position on an Allie Rice hit and scored when Chanhassen's right fielder mishandled an Amber Doyle fly ball.

Chanhassen moved ahead 2-1 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, but Rice gave the visitors the lead back with a two-run home run in the third inning, her second long ball of the season. It was 4-3 Hawks when Erin Wurst's solo shot tied it back up in the top of the fourth.

FHS pitcher Ashley Betzold settled in after that, working three straight scoreless innings to keep the score knotted up. Betzold finished with six strikeouts.

Rice finished with three of the team's nine hits. Wurst and Toni Hunsinger each added a pair of hits.

"We had at least a half a dozen hard hit balls that went right at their fielders," Harrington said. "We hit the ball hard, but finding the holes was difficult today. We just couldn't find a break or hole when we needed it."

The Tigers had more luck at the plate the previous week. They pounded out 14 hits in a 9-4 victory at Chaska last Tuesday, and then had 10 more in an 8-0 shutout of Rochester Mayo on Friday.

A seven-run top of the seventh lifted the team to victory at Chaska. Trailing 4-2, Taylor Yousse led off the top of the seventh with a single. Betzold, Rice, Hunsinger, Taylor Hakaana and Molly Berdan followed with base hits, Doyle reached on an error and Searles lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 7-4 Tigers. Betzold capped off the inning with a two-run single, her fifth hit of the game.

Rice finished 3 for 5 with three RBI.

Rice clubbed her first home run of the season and Betzold struck out 13 batters en route to her second shutout of the season in Friday's whitewashing of Rochester Mayo.

The game was still scoreless when Wurst drew a leadoff walk in the third. Rachel Brletich brought her in with an RBI single and Yousse and Betzold followed with singles to make it 3-0.

Three more runs came in in the fourth when Berdan ripped a two-run double and scored on a passed ball.

The Tigers, now a game out of first place in the Missota Conference, will take on three league opponents this week. They host Red Wing this afternoon and travel to Shakopee tomorrow.