The softball season for the NRHEG Panthers came to a conclusion Tuesday afternoon in Mankato as the No. 4 Panthers fell to the No.3 Belle Plaine Tigers, 1-0, during the finals of the Section 2AA consolation bracket. Belle Plaine moves on to play No. 1 Le Sueur-Henderson with a shot at a state tournament birth on the line; the Tigers will need to defeat the Giants twice to do so.
“I am so proud of the girls and how hard they fought throughout the entire tournament, and for that matter, for the entire season,” NRHEG coach Wendy Schultz said after the game. “One word that comes to mind that describes our girls: gritty! Because of their hard work we enjoyed a successful season.”
The Panthers played two games on Tuesday, beginning with their win over the No. 2 Lake Crystal-WM Knights. NRHEG trailed 4-2 heading into the sixth inning, but a home run by senior Cloie Arndt followed by a bases clearing triple by Sidney Schultz gave them a 6-4 lead, the score they would ultimately win by. Anna Jacobson (2) and Bree Ihrke (1) each added RBIs.
NRHEG allowed one run in the top of the first inning during their game against Belle Plaine, which was ultimately enough to give the Tigers the win. Schultz registered the team’s only two hits during the contest, one being a triple.
Sophie Stork pitched all 13 innings NRHEG played on Tuesday, striking out 18, walking only one and allowing five earned runs.
The Panthers will be losing three athletes — Arndt, Jacobson and Grace Tufte — to graduation this spring.
“We are going to miss our three seniors immensely. They put in countless hours in the offseason to improve their softball skills and did so much for our softball program. Thank you to the girls, as well as their supportive parents,” Schultz said.