by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River softball was no match for Park Center, the state Class 2A champion the last two years with its core still intact, on Thursday.
Nicola Tade fired a two-hitter with 13 strikeouts as the Pirates, opening their season, rolled past the Elks 6-0 in Elk River.
“Park Center has been good for three or four years,” said Elk coach Stacy Sheetz, who had a state champ herself in 2009, “because they have that really good pitcher and center fielder, and three or four girls who’ve played since eighth grade and they’re seniors now.”
Tade also led a 10-hit attack, going 3-for-4 with two doubles. Kati Fern and Hannah Schaub were each 2-for-4 and all three had an RBI. Abby DeMorett knocked in two runs.
Courtney Jensen took the loss, giving up five runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Anna Pipenhagen turned in a strong relief stint, allowing one run and three hits in 5 2/3 frames, striking out four and walking two.
“Anna was a little nervous in our first game, but she really settled down today,” said Sheetz, referring to Pipenhagen and Jensen both having a tough time in a 17-16 opening loss to Anoka on Tuesday.
The Elk hits were singles by Michaela Bruns and Jess Neuman in the last two innings. Elks had just one error, after making six boots against Anoka.
Elk River is 0-2 going into a non-conference game at Hopkins on Monday.
“We’ll keep learning from this and keep getting better,” said the coach.