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Softball: Tigers take over league lead

Back-to-back road wins and a pair of Chanhassen losses last week vaulted Farmington into a first-place tie with Shakopee in the Missota Conference standings.

The Tigers blew past Holy Angels 9-2 last Tuesday in Richfield, then held on for a narrow 1-0 shutout at rival Northfield on Thursday to improve to 9-2 overall and 8-2 in league play with four Missota games to go.

Junior pitcher Ashley Betzold fired a two-hit shutout and struck out seven against the Raiders. She stranded the potential tying run on base in the last two innings, including the sixth when Northfield put a runner on third with nobody out.

"It was a classic fastpitch matchup, two very good pitchers shutting down the other team's hitters," Farmington coach Paul Harrington said. "The sixth and seventh innings were nail-biters until the final out was made.... It was a big game and win, as it had conference and section implications. But once again, Northfield is another good team we might see down the road come section playoff time."

The Tigers scored the only run of the game in the top of the fourth when Toni Hunsinger reached on a throwing error, moved to second on a Betzold single and scored on a single to left field by Allie Rice.

"Once again, a timely hit proved to be the difference in the game," Harrington said.

Seven hits, combined with eight Holy Angels errors, helped the Tigers bounce back from a loss to Shakopee with a 9-2 win last Tuesday in Richfield.

The visitors committed four errors of their own, but only had to make seven other defensive plays as Betzold fanned 14 Stars batters.

"It was a good win, but we need to get better offensively and defensively soon, as section play is only three weeks away," Harrington said.

The Tigers, aided by the generous Holy Angels defense, scored in each of the first four innings. In the first, Brooke Searles led off with a single and scored on an error and Amber Doyle added an RBI single.

Taylor Yousse started the second with a double down the left field line and Hunsinger ripped a single to make it 3-0.

Searles added a two-run single in the third and an error and an infield single by Molly Berdan plated two more in the fourth.

Two more errors brought in the final two runs in the sixth.

Last weekend's Lakeville North Tournament was rained out, giving the Tigers a four-day break heading into Tuesday's home game against Chaska. The team is back on the diamond this afternoon at New Prague.