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Softball: Zastrow's home run lifts B-E over Parkers Prairie

The Chargers celebrate Haddey Zastrow's sixth inning home run during Brandon-Evansville's 4-1 win over Parkers Prairie Tuesday afternoon. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)1 / 7
John Noga gives advice to his players in during Brandon-Evansville's 4-1 win over Parkers Prairie Tuesday afternoon. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)2 / 7
Kasi Sieling celebrates Zastrow's home run during Brandon-Evansville's 4-1 win over Parkers Prairie Tuesday afternoon. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)3 / 7
Cora Johnson squares to bunt during Brandon-Evansville's 4-1 win over Parkers Prairie Tuesday afternoon. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)4 / 7
Alena Shores claps her hands after a pop fly during Brandon-Evansville's 4-1 win over Parkers Prairie Tuesday afternoon. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)5 / 7
Darian Booker hustles out a ground ball during Brandon-Evansville's 4-1 win over Parkers Prairie Tuesday afternoon. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)6 / 7
Lydia Gunther camps under a fly ball during Brandon-Evansville's 4-1 win over Parkers Prairie Tuesday afternoon. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)7 / 7

The Brandon-Evansville softball team had lost two games all season heading into the opening game in the Section 6A playoffs. After Parkers Prairie tied the game 1-1 in the top of the sixth, the Chargers saw their season hanging in the balance.

B-E earned the fourth seed in the South subsection after a 15-2 regular season. The Chargers drew a matchup with one of their conference rivals. Parkers Prairie earned the fifth seed in the South with an 8-9 record setting up an elimination game in Brandon Tuesday afternoon.

“There are a lot of teams that could make it to state out of this section,” Panthers head coach John Noga said. “We played a lot of great softball teams this season and (B-E) is one of them.”

The Chargers advanced to the double-elimination bracket with a 4-1 win. Bailey Schaefer broke the ice with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth.

Parkers Prairie found ways to keep getting runners on base. B-E starting pitcher Mikenna Pattrin left four runners stranded in the first five innings. However, in the top of the sixth the Panthers tied the game with a two-out RBI single from Chloe Thue.

In the bottom of the inning, Kristen Kokett got on base with a single. With two outs, Pattrin hit a hard ground ball that could not be handled cleanly by shortstop Megan Blake – setting up a big moment for Haddey Zastrow.

“I just went up there trusting the coaches and trusting myself,” Zastrow said.

With the wind blowing heavily toward the right field wall, Zastrow got under the Macy Jakubiec pitch. Players and fans collectively held their breath and watched the ball carry over the right center-field fence.

“Haddey has been such a good player for us all season and I was so happy to see her get that moment,” B-E head coach Kasi Sieling said. “I thought we played great today. (Parkers Prairie) gave us a tough game. We made great plays in the field and got a big hit in the end.”

Three runs were enough for Pattrin to get three more outs and advance to the second round in Frazee on Thursday. Pattrin’s complete game may not be the story, but it shouldn’t be forgotten.

“She’s been so good all year,” Zastrow said. “We just try to make the plays in the field behind her.”

Brandon-Evansville will take on New York Mills in the next round on Thursday. NYM is the defending state champion and finished the regular season with an 18-2 record.

“We will get ready for the next game like we would any other game,” Sieling said. “We are doing good things defensively and have really good pitching. Seeing these girls fight at the end of a game like this has us coaches confident that we can compete with anybody.”

It’s the end of the road for Parkers Prairie. For Noga, it’s a chance to look at how his girls improved as the season went on.

“We had two seniors on this team and they’re going to be missed but I think we played hard until the end,” he said. “We were so close and just couldn’t find a big hit to get a few more runs. We wanted to force (B-E) to make the plays in the field that they needed to make.”

The Chargers will play at 4 p.m. in Frazee on Thursday.

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