Tartan sends South St. Paul packing

The Tartan Titans spotted the visiting South St. Paul Packers a pair of first-inning runs, and then came back from the deficit to post 12-2 softball victory Friday, April 10.

Judging from the first inning, Packers seemed to be on their way to an easy win.

Kory Rutkowski beat out a slow-roller to the right side in the top of the first inning. A strikeout later, Elise Barnes (2-for-3) slammed solid double to the centerfield fence to put Rutkowski across the plate.

Barnes moved to third on a Tartan error, and Sydney King then sent a sacrifice fly to centerfield, and South St. Paul was quickly up 2-0.

But the Titans soon settled down, and played well behind the solid hurling of Danica Richert, who allowed just four total hits, while striking out eight in the six innings it took for Tartan to end the contest. She also went 2-for-4 at the plate.

Afterwards, Tartan coach Brian Larson stated, "We're getting there. We've finally, as a team, started thinking about winning games. These kids now want to win.

"Today we took advantage of South St. Paul's mistakes. We made some mistakes early and gave them two runs, but then we came back strong. Last week we made some mistakes late in the game, and we were able to come back and score five runs in the bottom of the seventh.

"We have some weapons in our young players. Also we have a couple of pitchers that are both throwing well for us. Things are beginning to look up."

From the South St, Paul perspective, coach Paul Moen was somewhat philosophical when he said, "It was a tough game for us.  Actually, it is the second one in a row. North did us in earlier.

"We have basically the same team as we had last year when we beat Tartan a couple of times. But today Tartan came ready to play.

"We made some mental errors and then some walks hurt us. Tartan took advantage. But that's what we're here for, to make [our players] better."

The Titans took the lead in their half of the first. Kailee Stiff got things going with a walk. Singles by Carlee Palmer and Kristina Lodahl, and a double by Allie Hazzard put three runs on the board.

Tartan scored another run in the second, when Jordan Sabelko was safe on a fielder's choice and raced to third on a wild pitch. She scored on an infield sacrifice to widen the lead to 4-2.

In the fifth Tartan batted around. Palmer and Lodahl worked leadoff walks, and Tara Bighley banged a single. Hazzard was safe on a fielder's choice in front of a walk to Hannah Kath.

Krista Sandberg hit a sacrifice fly to right before an RBI single by Richert brought the score to 8-2.

In their half of the sixth the Titans put the game away when six hits and an error added four more runs. Palmer (1-for-3) was safe on an infield error. Singles by Lodahl (2-for-3), Bighley (2-for-4), Kath (2-for-3), Sandberg (1-for-3), Sabelko (1-for-3) and Stiff (2-for-4) boosted Tartan's lead to 12-2, ending the game on the 10-run rule.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at wwakefield@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7820.

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