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Softball: Farmington is in the conference title hunt

Farmington shortstop Taylor Yousse throws across the diamond for an out during last Tuesday's game.

A five-run first inning Friday helped Shakopee grab plenty of momentum, not only in its game against Farmington, but in its charge back up the Missota Conference standings.

The Sabers held on for a 6-3 victory over the Tigers, avenging a season-opening 3-2 loss, and moved back into a second-place tie in the league standings. Shakopee has also knocked off third-ranked (Class 3A) Hopkins and handed first-place Chanhassen its first league loss during its five-game winning streak.

The Storm remains the only one-loss team in the Missota, while Farmington and Shakopee are both a game back with two losses apiece.

Friday's showdown between the league contenders started well for Farmington. Hits by Toni Hunsinger, Amber Doyle and Aleah Williamson produced two runs, but Shakopee's big bottom of the first turned the tide.

"We got the momentum when we scored two in the top of the first inning, but they got those five runs and we lost all that," Farmington coach Paul Harrington said. "They took the momentum away from us and we never got it back."

The Tigers (7-2) ended up with eight hits, but stranded 10 runners on base. Hunsinger plated another run with a double in the second and finished 3 for 4 and Doyle added two hits.

"We battled at the plate and got on by hits, walks or errors, but just did not get the big hit when we needed it," Harrington said. "We need to get our timely hitting back."

Starting pitcher Ashley Betzold settled in after the first, holding the Sabers to one run over the final five innings. She allowed six runs, all earned, on nine hits.

Coming off an extra-inning loss last Monday against Chanhassen, the Tigers overcame three errors and a six-hit offensive effort to beat New Prague 6-2 at home last Tuesday.

A three-run second turned out to be all the offense the Tigers would need. Doyle started the inning with a triple and was one of two runs to score when New Prague botched a rundown and threw the ball into left field. Erin Wurst followed with an RBI single to make it 3-0.

Three more runs came across in the fourth courtesy of two walks, an infield error and a two-run double by Betzold.

Betzold finished with a three-hitter and six strikeouts.

The Tigers scored 11 runs in the second inning and ended up with a season-high 19 runs in a 19-2 victory over Red Wing on Wednesday.

Six players had at least two of the team's 18 hits. Taylor Hakaana and Hunsinger each went 3 for 4 and Williamson, Doyle, Brooke Searles and Rachel Brletich each added two hits.

Betzold worked the first four innings for her seventh victory before Hunsinger worked a scoreless inning of relief to end the game.