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Softball: Tigers 5-0 for the first time in five years

Great pitching, near-flawless defense and timely hitting have all played a role in the Farmington softball team’s first 5-0 start since the 2012 season.

The Tigers kept their perfect start alive and moved into first place in the South Suburban Conference Monday afternoon by rallying for two runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Apple Valley, 5-4.

It was the second win of the season for senior pitcher Maddie Muelken, who held the Eagles to two earned runs over seven innings. Olivia Hazelbaker and Taylor Jasper each ripped three hits and drove in runs and Muelken added a pair of hits.

Becca Silber got the start in the circle in the Tigers’ first road game of the season last Tuesday and held the Lakers to two runs on six hits in the 5-2 victory. Emma Frost provided all the offense for the visitors, launching a two-run home run to break a scoreless tie in the sixth inning and following that up with a three-run shot in the seventh.

“We worked their pitcher for a few walks and Emma had a couple of good at bats and she made them pay for it,” Farmington coach Paul Harrington said.

A day later, Muelken made her season debut and outdueled Rosemount all-stater Gabby Sprang in a 2-1 Tiger victory. Muelken struck out six Irish hitters, allowed just five hits and ripped two doubles of her own.

The score was tied at 1-1 until the bottom of the sixth inning when Hazelbaker singled, moved into scoring position on an Emily Berdan single and scored the go-ahead run on a strikeout pitch that the catcher didn’t catch.

“It was a typical South Suburban battle — great pitching and great defense. Maddie and Gabby were going at it,” Harrington said. “Both teams competed hard. It was a fun game to see and coach.”

The Tigers scratched out another pitcher's duel a day later against Eastview, defeating the Lightning 4-1 behind Silber’s third straight solid start and a fourth straight errorless effort by the defense.

Elly Rust opened the scoring with a two-run single and Frost doubled the lead in the fifth inning with her third home run of the week.

“We had great pitching and errorless defense in our first four games. That has been the keys to our victories, along with scoring enough runs to win,” Harrington said. “Becca was sharp on the mound, only yielding three hits and the defense turned two double plays.”

The Tigers took on Shakopee Wednesday and are in action this weekend at the Mankato East tournament.