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Softball: Woodbury gets key comeback win vs. Park

Woodbury players gather at the plate to greet Ashley Mickschl as she comes home after socking a solo homer in the fourth inning Monday. Photo by John Molene1 / 6
Meagan Bliese of the Royals scores in the seventh inning as she slides under the tag of Park catcher Saren Croker. Photo by John Molene2 / 6
Park outfielder Madi Meduna camps under a fly ball to make an out for the Wolfpack in the sixth inning. Photo by John Molene3 / 6
Park's Riley Perryman celebrates with teammates in the dugout after scoring a go-ahead run in the sixth inning. Photo by John Molene4 / 6
Woodbury's Ellie Condon slides under the tag of Park's Alayna Silvis at second base in the fourth inning Monday. Photo by John Molene5 / 6
Park junior shortstop Alayna Silvis guns down a Woodbury runner with a throw in the fifth inning. Photo by John Molene6 / 6

With eighth-ranked Woodbury trailing sixth-ranked Park 3-2 heading into the top of the seventh inning, it looked like the Royals were about to lose their fourth straight one-run contest to the Wolfpack.

Instead, Woodbury broke through for a four-run seventh and took a 6-3 victory from the host Wolfpack Monday in Cottage Grove.

The Royals strung together six hits in the seventh inning as they batted around, the biggest shot being a two-run, two-out single by third baseman Grace Beseman which made it a 6-3 game.

Woodbury assistant coach Bob Nickleby said the Royals didn't get a pep talk before the seventh inning.

"With this group, you don't really have to," Nickleby said. "They know what they're doing. They're competitors. And they don't quit."

It was a huge win for the league-leading Royals. Woodbury improved to 10-2 in the Suburban East Conference and 11-2 on the season. It was the ninth straight win for the Royals and their 11th in 13 games. Woodbury has lost just twice this season, a one-run loss to sixth-ranked Park and a one-run loss to fifth-ranked Forest Lake.

"Any time you can beat a team like that," Nickleby said. "We owed them one. They've been handling us, three straight one-run losses."

Park fell to 11-4 overall and 8-3 in the conference.

It was Park's fifth game in six days, but Park head coach Bob Loshek refused to blame the loss on fatigue. He did acknowledge his team was hurting from a lack of practice, especially on defense.

"That's what we have to shore up," Loshek said. "The last week or so we have kicked it around. We kicked it around against Winona. We kicked it around against Stillwater. And that is uncharacteristic. We're usually a very, very good fielding team. It could possibly be too many games and not enough practices."

The win put Woodbury one and a half games ahead of Park in the conference standings and sets up a showdown game at home against ninth-ranked Stillwater (9-2, 10-2) on Wednesday. A win would put the Royals in the driver's seat for a SEC softball title.

Both Park and Woodbury pushed across one run early. Woodbury's Ashley Mickschl then broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning with a leadoff home run.

Park tied it with one run in the fifth on a single by Hanna Mortenson and took a 3-2 lead with another run in the sixth on a two-out single by Bryanna Olson that scored Riley Perryman who walked to open the inning.

Woodbury started the seventh with three straight singles from the bottom of the order, Kaitlyn Rocco, Shannon Motzko and Anna O'Connor. O'Connor's hit tied the game at 3-3, and Amanda Dickmeyer followed with another single to make it a 4-3 Woodbury lead. A Cam Veenbaas single and two fielder's choices later, Beseman stepped up and delivered the knockout two-run punch.

"I think we definitely did well with our bats," said Beseman, who finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs. "We never stopped swinging. We took a pitch if we needed to but then we were right on it, strong."

The seventh-inning rally was a thrill, Beseman agreed.

"This is definitely one of my favorite parts of softball," Beseman added. "Coming back and just pounding the ball and having fun with it."

For Park, it was a second straight loss after dropping a road game 2-0 to a non-conference opponent on Saturday.

"I think we've played well, we're just not finishing," Loshek said. "We're getting right there. I don't think we're blowing games. I know we believe in ourselves — you just go through these things. So I'd rather go through them now than when the sections start."

Shortstop Alayna Silvis was 2-for-4 for Park, scored two runs and stole three bases.

Park will play at Mounds View (3-11, 1-11) Wednesday.

After getting a critical comeback win on Monday, the Royals credited their ability to focus on generating offense when they needed it the most.

"I think everyone was ready to hit, everybody wanted to hit, and nobody came out swinging for the fences," said Motzko, who was 3-for-3 at the plate. "We just went base-to-base, and that really helped the team."

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