The NRHEG Panther softball team extended their winning streak to three games Friday afternoon when they easily dispatched of the Maple River Eagles, 9-0.
The Panthers' record now stands at 3-0, due in large part to the strong pitching performances of junior Sophie Stork. Stork once again tossed a complete game shutout against Maple River — her second in as many starts — and struck out six Eagle batters over the course of the game. She has allowed only four runs all season while striking out 20 and walking only nine.
"Sophie has worked really hard," NRHEG coach Wendy Schultz said of her ace, who puts in quite a bit of time during the offseason working on her craft. "She's just a strong athlete [and] mentally she's very tough as well. It's very, very nice to have her out there."
At the plate, the Panthers were difficult to retire, with each member of the starting lineup reaching base on at least one occasion. Sidney Schultz was 2-for-4 on the day and score two runs in addition to driving in two of her own. Ava Kyllo went 1-for-2 and also scored twice. Brenlee Knudson, Hallie Schultz and Stork picked up two hits apiece, while Faith Nielsen, Grace Tufte and Paige Nielsen each added one.
"You look up at the scoreboard and obviously you like to see the nine on there, but more importantly you like to see the zero," Schultz said in praise of her team's defense, who didn't commit and error all game. "It just shows that they're playing pretty good defense. Today's game and against Hayfield and even against Faribault, they'll have runners in scoring position, but the girls just keep their composure."
The Panthers have outscored their opponents 22-4 during their hot start and have been playing some of the most complete softball among the teams in the area. They will look to continue to their winning ways on Thursday, April 22 when they travel to Medford to take on the Tigers. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.