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Woodbury softball: Royals beat rival Park, on a roll

Woodbury senior Brooke Pantilla rounds third base and heads for home after hitting a home run against Park Saturday.1 / 3
Woodbury senior infielder Jamie Reetz guns the ball to first in the Royals' win over Park last week.2 / 3
Woodbury senior Kait Shea connects with a pitch against Park.3 / 3

Since losing to rival Park 12-1 last season, Woodbury's Brooke Pantilla has been looking forward to the rematch.

On Saturday, Pantilla and the Royals got some payback.

Woodbury beat the Wolfpack 9-5 on Saturday, May 10, at Park's Charlie Whitbred Field, erasing an early 4-1 deficit. Pantilla, a senior pitcher, led the way for Woodbury, going 2-for-4 with a home run, three RBI, while earning a complete game win on the mound.

"It feels very good," Pantilla said. "We haven't beaten them in a couple years, so it was good to get a win against them."

The win ended a four-game losing streak to the rival Wolfpack and improved Woodbury's record to 8-5 overall and in the Suburban East Conference, which puts the Royals in fourth place.

"It was a good win for us," Woodbury head coach Bob Samson said. "Both our pitchers are pitching solid, our defense is good and we're really starting to hit the ball, too. In spite of the coaching we're playing really good softball right now."

In the win, Park (3-6; 3-6 SEC) took an early 4-1 lead with three runs in the first inning and a run in the second inning. Woodbury scored eight total runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, however to take control of the game.

"Our kids just keep getting better and better," Samson said. "Today they started a little slow and made some mistakes. The old team would've probably cashed it in, but this bunch of girls just kicks it up to the next level."

Woodbury tied the game in the top of the fourth inning. Down 4-1, the Royals loaded the bases with no outs. Woodbury sophomore Melissa Johnson drew a walk to plate junior Caitlin Balsimo and make the score 4-2. Then, after a pop out, sophomore Ellie Blanchfield delivered a one-out, two-run single that scored Erin Goddell and Heather Shumaker, tying the game 4-4.

After a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth inning, Woodbury took an 8-4 lead in the top of the fifth. After a leadoff double by junior Jordyn Yourczek, Pantilla smacked a two-run home run - her second of the year - over the fence in right-centerfield to put the Royals up 6-4.

"I'll remember that one for a while, since it came against Park," Pantilla said.

However, Woodbury wasn't done yet. The Royals loaded the bases once again and senior Jamie Reetz delivered a two-run single up the middle to give Woodbury an 8-4 lead - one it wouldn't relinquish. The Royals scored their final run on the game in the top of the sixth when sophomore Melissa Johnson drove in Balsimo with a two-out single.

"We hit the ball hard today, we really pounded it, it was fun," Samson said. "I think the girls are realizing that if you make a mistake it's OK. It's more about the next play, not the last play. It's just softball, let's have some fun out there."

Prior to beating Park, Woodbury split a pair of double-headers with White Bear Lake (1-8; 1-8 SEC) and Stillwater (11-3; 11-3 SEC). The Royals beat White Bear Lake 9-5 and lost to the Bears 6-1 on Wednesday and beat Stillwater 2-0 and lost to the Ponies 9-4 on Monday.

In the win over White Bear Lake, Anna Torgerson knocked a solo home run and Balsimo earned the win on the mound. In the victory over Stillwater, Pantilla led Woodbury, throwing a complete game, shutout, striking out 11, while going 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI at the plate.

Woodbury was at rival East Ridge on Monday, after the Bulletin went to print. Next, the Royals are in Forest Lake to take on the SEC-leading Rangers (11-1; 11-1 SEC) in a double-header on Thursday, May 16. The two games against Forest Lake will cap the Royals' regular season. The Section 4AAA tournament runs May 20-30 at North St. Paul's McKnight Fields. Fourth-ranked North St. Paul and eighth-ranked Hill-Murray will likely be the favorites in the postseason, but teams like Stillwater and Woodbury could surprise as well.

"We've all gotten along really well this year and I think that shows on the field," Pantilla said. "I think we have a really solid team with our hitting and our defense. I hope we can go far."