The Farmington Tigers' softball team picked up right where they left off after winning last season's state championship by routing the Northfield Raiders, 14-2, in the season opener on Saturday, April 21. They followed that win up with a close victory over Apple Valley, 3-2, to start South Suburban Conference play. Against Northfield, the Tigers scored in bunches as they exploded for three runs in the top of the first, five in the fourth and six in sixth. Three players hit home runs for Farmington and senior Becca Sibler struck out seven batters to get the win. In the win over Apple Valley, each team only had six hits but Farmington was able to come from behind after trailing 2-0 to win 3-2 on a walk-off RBI single by sophomore Katelyn Mohr.
The Tigers scored three in the first inning on three hits. Junior Olivia Hazelbaker led off with a single and Mohr followed up with a double. Two fielder's choice hits by senior Emma Frost and junior Abby Clayton scored Hazelbaker and Mohr. Junior Elly Rust topped off the inning with a solo home run.
Northfield scored two runs in the bottom of the third to cut Farmington's lead to one. However, the Tigers then blew the game open with a five-run fourth. Senior Tarah DeCroock singled, junior Taylor Jasper walked and fellow junior Kaitlyn Abraham reached on an error. Up came Sibler who delivered with a two-RBI double that scored DeCroock and Jasper, then Hazelbaker cleared the bases with a three-run home run.
Leading 8-2, Farmington sealed the win with six runs in the top of the sixth. Abraham, Sibler, Hazelbaker, Frost, senior Korin Hall, Rust and Jasper all reached base. Mohr had a three-run home run, DeCroock a sacrifice fly and Jasper a two-RBI single.
"This was a solid team effort," head coach Paul Harrington said. "All nine of our starters scored at least one run and eight of our nine starters had at least one RBI. Our defense did not commit an error and our battery combination of Becca Silber and Katelyn Mohr were on the same page and only yielded four hits."
The game against Apple Valley was far different than the Tigers' win over Northfield. Offense came at a premium against the Eagles, and Farmington had to come from behind after giving up two runs in the top of the second. Silber pitched again for the Tigers and gave up just the two runs on six hits while striking out three to earn her second win of the season.
In the third inning, sophomore Katelyn Hand tripled and scored on a wild pitch to cut the Eagles' lead to 2-1. Then in the bottom of the seventh, trailing 2-1, Hand reached on an error, Hazelbaker doubled and freshman Sydney Redlin scored on an infield hit by Jasper while running for Hand. With the game tied 2-2, Frost walked to load the bases and freshman pinch runner Kayla Herda scored on Mohr's walk-off RBI single.
Harrington credited his hitters with doing whatever they needed to do to get on base and convert.
"Our hitters worked hard to get on any way they could," he said. "We managed to turn our lineup over one more time than them and that was probably the difference in the game. Olivia's double was huge to set the table and get the runners in scoring position. Then Katelyn came up big with the game ending walk-off single."
Just as big for the team is the performance of Silber and Mohr behind the plate.
"This was a pitchers' dual," Harrington said. "Both pitchers were tough on the hitters, each only yielding six hits. Becca Silber was again strong on the mound with Katelyn Mohr calling the signals. The new "battery combination" has now been in sync our first two games, and are stepping up to fill a couple of big holes left by our graduating seniors."
The Tigers hosted Lakeville South on Monday and Burnsville on Tuesday. They then traveled to Prior Lake on Wednesday and go to Lakeville South on Friday, May 4.