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Softball: Tigers building momentum heading into final week

The Farmington softball team is hitting its stride just in time for the upcoming Section 1AAAA tournament.

The third-ranked Tigers reeled off five wins in five days last week, launching five home runs in the process, as they kept pace with No. 2 Prior Lake atop the South Suburban Conference standings. At 15-3 overall and 11-2 in the league, the Tigers entered the final week of the regular season one game out of first place.

In Friday’s week-capping 8-3 road win at Owatonna, Emma Frost launched a three-run home run for the third straight game and pitcher Becca Silber scattered 10 hits over seven innings while improving to a perfect 7-0.

Silber also helped herself by going 3-for-4 at the plate. Olivia Hazelbaker drove in three runs with a pair of doubles and Caitie Dully and Emily Berdan each added two hits.

“It was a very physical and mentally challenging road game for our girls, as this was our fifth game in as many days. But the team was determined to finish the week out with a fifth win and they did it,” Farmington coach Paul Harrington said. “It was a great week for us and helped to further define our team’s character and ability.”

A day earlier, the Tigers notched their fourth SSC win in four days by outlasting Eastview 10-8 in a slugfest in Apple Valley. Berdan connected on a two-run home run in the second inning and Frost followed with a three-run shot in the fourth. Hazelbaker ripped two more doubles while going 3-for-4 and knocking in two runs.

“Both teams were smacking the ball around and scoring runs. It was an exciting game until the end, as Eastview was battling back in the last inning, but Sydney (Redlin) made a great catch in center field to slow down their rally and we eventually won out,” Harrington said.

The Tigers began their offensive tear at the tail end of their game the previous day against Lakeville North. They led just 1-0 heading into the fifth inning courtesy of a bases loaded walk, but soon broke the game open thanks to RBI hits by Dully and Taylor Jasper and a three-run bomb by Frost. Hazelbaker followed with a solo shot of her own in the sixth and Maddie Muelken added an RBI single to put the home team in front 9-0.

On the pitching rubber, Muelken held the Panthers to four hits and improved her record to 8-3.

The Tigers survived their biggest challenge of the week last Tuesday against Apple Valley. The score stayed tied at 1-1 until the 10th inning when Dully was hit by a pitch, moved into scoring position on Hazelbaker’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Frost’s base hit to center.

“The 10th inning was textbook. Caitie reached first base and Olivia bunted her over. Then Emma gets walk off game winning hit. We will need to execute bunts and get key hits like that in section play to have success,” Harrington said.

The Tigers opened the week by blowing past Lakeville South 9-2. Muelken went 3-for-3 and drove in four runs and Berdan homered, singled twice and scored three runs.

The Tigers closed out the regular season Tuesday, May 16, with another game against Lakeville South. The Section 1AAAA tournament begins May 23.