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Falcons beat Panthers, Adrian stays alive with victory over T-M-B

WINDOM -- Junior outfielder Abby Halter stroked a pair of run-scoring doubles and teammate Audra Schmidt twirled a three-hit shutout, as second-seeded Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove won its Section 3A quarterfinal girls' fast-pitch softball game Tuesday, defeating seventh-seeded Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, 8-0.

The winning Falcons plated six runs in an explosive third inning and made defensive plays behind Schmidt all game long, keeping the Panthers off the bases -- and off the scoreboard.

"This was a good game for us," Schmidt said after the contest. "My teammates, as always, did a great job fielding balls and making plays."

Schmidt, a tall, athletic junior, did her part too, as she scattered just three hits and allowed only one walk, while striking out seven.

At the plate, five Falcons combined for eight hits, smacking five of them in their six-run third inning.

"We came up with a big inning, hitting the ball well," RRC/W-WG head coach Derek Stevenson said. "We took advantage of those hits and were smart on the bases, scoring lots of runs."

The Falcons had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Halter (2-for-4, two doubles, four RBI's, one run) drove in Emily Neperman with a double.

Then in the third frame, Shannon Altermatt's (2-for-4, two runs) bunt single started things for W-WG/RRC.

Kelly Shaner (2-for-4, two doubles) followed with a double, putting Falcons on second and third. Nichole Schroeder's RBI single scored Altermatt, and after Neperman was hit by a pitch, Steph Maras came through with an RBI single, plating Shaner.

With the bases still loaded, Halter came up clutch again, clearing the bases with her second double of the game. Halter later scored on a Panther error -- increasing the Falcon lead to 7-0.

"Abby sure had a pair of timely doubles for us," praised Stevenson. "Those four RBI's by her were huge."

RRC/W-WG (11-4) added an insurance run in the fifth, when Altermatt reached on another bunt single, advanced on Shaner's groundout and crossed the plate when Schroeder's blast to shortstop was too hot to handle cleanly.

In the field, Neperman made several fine plays at first base, helping the Falcons keep the Panthers off base.

"Emily had a couple of real nice grabs at first base," Stevenson said. "Audra pitched a typical fine game, only giving up that one walk."

T-M-B's three hits were scattered -- singles by Lexi Beierman and Bailey Lackie in the first and third innings, respectively, before Shea Lanoue cracked a solid leadoff double to right-center field in the seventh.

But a leaping catch by Neperman, a nice throw by Shaner (catcher) to Neperman and an unassisted play (grounder) by Neperman finished the inning and locked up the victory for the Falcons.

Lisa Bauer pitched for the Panthers, allowing just one walk, while striking out one.

R H E

T-M-B 000 000 0 -- 0 3 2

W/R 016 010 X -- 8 8 1

Adrian 9, T-M-B 8

WINDOM -- With two outs and the bases-loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday, Adrian Area senior catcher Melissa Weidert stepped into the batter's box with her team trailing by one run (8-7) in the loser's bracket of the Section 3A double elimination softball tournament.

If Tracy-Milroy-Balaton pitcher Lisa Bauer could get Weidert out, the season would be over for the Dragons.

Weidert, however, had better plans, as she smacked a 2-1 pitch in the gap between the third baseman and a diving shortstop -- into left field -- driving in teammates Courtney Dreesen and Alissa Meyer with the game-tying and game-winning runs, respectively.

"I was nervous," Weidert admitted moments after the winning Dragons broke their post-game huddle. "I was just hoping that nobody would catch the ball or make a play and get somebody out. I was able to hit it hard and just ran as fast as I could -- and with two outs, both Courtney and Alissa were booking it and they both scored."

Weidert's game-winning heroics came after Dreesen had drawn a two-out walk, Meyer was struck by a pitch on a 1-2 count and Sam Lynn (3-for-3, two doubles, three runs) coaxed her second walk of the game.

"We stayed alive in that last inning and then Melissa came through with a clutch hit," said AA head coach Markus Okeson. "You want a senior to come up big like that and she sure did."

With the victory the Dragons (7-13) continue in the tournament and will play C-A/H-N at Montevideo Saturday.

The game had several lead changes and plenty of dramatics before that final AA rally.

T-M-B plated a pair of runs in the top of the first inning, before the Dragons came back with one when Karli Meyer's RBI single scored Lynn, who had doubled to lead off the bottom of the first.

After a scoreless second frame, the Panthers took a 4-1 lead in the top of the third, as Brit Hanson and Lindsey Daniels both drove in runs.

AA answered back with a trio of runs, knotting the game at 4-all after three innings.

As they did later in the game, the Dragons ignited their rally with two outs.

Lynn had reached second with a lead off double, but a great catch by Panther third baseman Brit Carlson and pop-up catch by Bauer left Lynn where she started.

Briana Niebuhr's infield pop-up was not caught and Lynn streaked home, making the score 4-2. A single by Brooke Kramer moved Niebuhr to third and then Kaitlin Banck (two hits, three RBI's) delivered a clutch two-RBI single into right field, plating both runners.

Dragon hurler Karli Meyer retired six straight over the next two frames, as the T-M-B score stayed at four.

Banck came through again for AA in the bottom of the fifth, smacking another RBI single to right, scoring Niebuhr, who had drawn a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a passed ball.

T-M-B, however, came back with four runs in the top of the sixth to claim an 8-5 lead.

Lindsey Daniels drew a leadoff walk, Jessi Noakes poked an infield hit and Kayla Daniels coaxed a walk, loading the bases for Lexi Beierman, who ripped a two-RBI single, giving the Panthers a 6-5 edge. A ground-out RBI by Bauer increased the lead to 7-5 and Shea Lanoue's RBI single scored Beierman with T-M-B's eighth run.

The Dragons came back with a pair in the bottom of the sixth, as Lynn walked and Weidert (3-for-5, three RBI's, two runs) blasted a single up the middle. Karli Meyer then drove both runners home with her second hit of the game. The Panthers, however, made two fine fielding plays to end the inning.

Karli Meyer yielded just one hit, while striking out two and throwing out one in the top of the seventh -- keeping the game close and allowing AA to pull the game out in the bottom of the inning.

The Panthers finish the season with a 6-12 record.

R H E

T-M-B 202 004 0 -- 8 9 4

AA 103 012 2 -- 9 11 2

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