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Softball: Royals continue dominant stretch in SEC play

Woodbury senior Meagan Bliese beams as she accepts congratulates from teammates after hitting a game-ending two-run home run against White Bear Lake Friday. Photo by John Molene1 / 4
Woodbury's Alix Bookler beats the throw home to score for the Royals in the third inning against White Bear Lake Friday. Photo by John Molene2 / 4
Pitcher Ally Hjort of the Royals throws hard in the third inning in an 11-0 win over White Bear Lake. (Photo by John Molene)3 / 4
Ashley Mickschl of the Royals rounds third and comes in to score to make it a 3-0 game in the first inning against visiting White Bear Lake Friday. Photo by John Molene4 / 4

Eighth-ranked Woodbury continued its mid-season softball surge Friday with a convincing 11-0 win over visiting White Bear Lake in five innings.

Woodbury senior center fielder Meagan Bliese put the cherry on top the Royals' sundae with a walk-off two-run homer to end the game at Ojibway Park in the bottom of the fifth inning.

It was the seventh straight win for the surging Royals. In its last four games, Woodbury has outscored its Suburban East Conference opponents 49-1.

The league-leading Royals improved to 9-2 in the conference and on the season.

Woodbury scored three runs in the bottom of the first and was never threatened by the Bears (3-7, 4-8). The Royals led 5-0 after two and 8-0 after three innings.

The Royals ripped two White Bear Lake pitchers for 15 hits, led by Bliese who went 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored.

Catcher Shannon Motzko was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and second baseman Cam Veenbaas was 2-for-4 and drove in two runs. Ally Hjort, Alix Bookler and Jade Boisjoli each drove in a run.

Hjort and Ashley Mickschl combined to hold the Bears to just three hits and struck out five. Hjort pitched the first three innings and got the win.

The Royals are doing everything well — pitching, defense, hitting, baserunning — but there's still room for improvement, the coaches and players said.

"I think we just need to keep playing as a team and string everything together," head coach Michelle Welch said. "Some games we've had, our hits have been spaced out. And in this last week, it's all come together. So we've just got to keep that going.

"They've been doing an awesome job of picking each other up," Welch added. "Everything is about the team."

"Honestly just everything can get better at this point," Hjort said. "We can still hit stronger. We can field a little cleaner. Getting rid of any errors would make us 10 times better."

The chemistry on this year's team is excellent as well.

"I think we might be closer," Veenbaas said. "I think we have more chemistry with each other and I think we always know what each other are going to do. I think we're more supportive of each other. We always have been."

Woodbury has a SEC showdown week next week, playing at sixth-ranked Park (8-2, 10-2) Monday and then hosting ninth-ranked Stillwater (7-2, 9-2) Wednesday.

"Next week is a big week," Veenbaas said.