Park 4, Woodbury 1

The leadoff hitter is one of the most important batters for a softball team.

She's the first to step up to the plate and her responsibility is to take pitches to see a pitcher's arsenal. It's recommended that she reaches base, so a rally can start and runs can be scored.

The leadoff job can be difficult, but senior outfielder Madi Meduna is ready for the challenge.

When it's Park's turn to bat in the first inning, Meduna goes to her bag and pulls out her white batting glove. She tightens the glove on her left hand. The other hand doesn't have a glove.

After the glove, she walks over and puts on a helmet. Then, Meduna grabs her black bat with Easton blue letters and many ball marks from the hits on the bat.

She steps out of the dugout and into the dirt as she mentally prepares for her job in the leadoff role.

Before stepping into the batter's box though, Meduna stands right outside the box and waits for a second. She goes on her tiptoes and takes one deep breath.

Now, she gets in the box and focuses on the battle with the pitcher. After each pitch, Meduna will get out of the box and do the same routine to establish her focus with each pitch.

She waits for the right pitch and crushes it to the outfield for a single or a double. That's all Meduna did on Tuesday at the plate and it helped Park earn the 4-1 victory over Woodbury.

"I do it after every pitch because it helps me focus on one pitch at a time," Meduna said. "I just want to make sure to get on base and allow the batters behind me to knock me in."

In the first inning, that's exactly what happened. Meduna doubled to start the game and Corinna Loshek singled to get two players on base.

Saren Croker follows it up with a double and brings in both runners. Finally, Paige Heitkamp singles and scores Croker to give the Wolfpack a 3-0 lead right away.

After that inning, Woodbury and Park changed their mentality. For the Royals, they met in the dugout and just made sure they were refocused and ready for the next six innings.

"[That first inning] was a wake up call for us," said Grace Beseman. "We just needed to get our heads in the game and that's what we did."

After that first inning, the Royals kept it close and brought the game to a two-fun deficit. Hailey Neubauer had a strong game on the mound and her rise ball was on point, according to her catcher, Beseman.

Neubauer only allowed one more run to score for Park within the last six innings of the game.

"If you take away the first inning, it's a 1-1 game," said Woodbury's head coach Michelle Benusa. "Which going against the runner up at state, is a pretty great accomplishment for such a young team."

As for the Wolfpack, they had a comfortable lead and some of the players said that lead made them not as aggressive as they hoped.

"We started off strong in the first inning, but we became comfortable with what we had," said Samantha Fohrman. "We have to keep pushing and we can't wait."

Park looked to its pitching staff to hold the lead and the one-two duo didn't disappoint.

Bryanna Olson started the game on the mound, while Fohrman completed the game. The duo struck out 13 batters and only allowed one run.

"There's a lot of trust between the two of us when either of us is on the mound," Olson said. "That's what makes us stronger as pitchers because we learn from each other."

Park's head coach Bob Loshek said he's glad to see the pitchers continue to develop and having a strong one-two punch, along with other strong pitchers in the rotation, is great to see.

For Park, the biggest aspect Loshek wants to see improve is getting more runs on the board.

"Anytime you play Woodbury it's going to be a good game because there's so much old rivalries there," Loshek said. "We just have to stay aggressive and keep attacking the ball for the next game ahead."

For Woodbury, the focus heading into future games is minimizing the amount of strikeouts at the plate and continuing to fix the little things. Beseman and Neubauer both agreed that they played well against Park and they are excited to play their next game later this week.

"After that first inning we just got it out of us and we became more aggressive and wanted to win this game," Neubauer said. "Just after that first inning, we beared down and got it."

Park and Woodbury had games scheduled for Wednesday, April 17, but both games were postponed due to the rain throughout the day. Now, the two teams will prepare for their games on Thursday, April 18.

The Wolfpack will head to White Bear Lake and play at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, while the Royals will travel up to Stillwater at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.