Parkers Prairie senior Kieda Wagner had herself an afternoon on the diamond in Brandon on Monday.
Wagner belted two home runs and threw five innings on the rubber in the Panthers’ 15-3 win over Brandon-Evansville (7-2) in five innings. Parkers Prairie (5-2) head coach John Noga wasn’t surprised by her productive day.
“She’s been solid here for me from her sophomore year and on,” Noga said. “She’s been a little up and down so far, but today she swung at really good pitches. I expect her to keep hitting like that for us.”
Seniors Megan Blake and Darian Booker got things started with a pair of singles in the top of the first for the Panthers. Sophomore Cora Johnson drove in both runners with a one-out single to take a 2-0 lead. Wagner made it 3-0 when she crossed home on a wild pitch.
B-E looked as if it would respond to the crooked number in the bottom of the first when Sydney Schaefer reached base on a bunt single. However, Wagner retired the next three batters in order-- stranding Schaefer on second base.
The top of the second inning is where the Panthers’ bottom of the order came through in big spots. Sophomore Ashley Olson drove in a run with a single before Wagner launched a three-run home run over the left-field fence.
“In our first four innings, we were getting the girls at the bottom of our lineup on base,” Noga said. “Whether it was a walk or a nice bunt, we were making good contact. That’s what happened again today. (B-E) had a few miscues, which gave us momentum at the top of our order again.”
Wagner’s two-RBI double in the top of the third inning put Parkers Prairie up 10-0. B-E senior starting pitcher Mikenna Pattrin didn’t have her typical command on top of several errors from the defenders behind her.
“Our defense has to back her up,” B-E head coach Kasi Sieling said. “It goes both ways. She has to execute her game plan, and our defense has to get dirty and make plays for her. If we can put those two pieces together, I think we can be competitive.”
B-E’s Taylin Kremer tried to spark a rally with a leadoff single in the bottom of the third inning. She came around to score on a fielder’s choice to cut the Panthers’ lead to 10-1.
Kramer relieved Pattrin in the top of the fourth inning after Lydia Guenther and Brooklyn Rokes reached base to lead off the inning. Both came around to score before the inning ended– pinning B-E on the heels of a 10-run rule.
Kylee Dingwall crossed home for the Chargers on a fielder’s choice before Kramer’s RBI single made it 12-3. But Wagner stole the show again. After getting out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth, she took Kramer deep to dead center with a two-run shot. Rokes would score the final run of the game on sophomore Abbi Ruckheim’s RBI double.
While the Parkers Prairie offense was clicking from start to finish, the Panthers also played stout defense. The final two outs of the game came on 1-3-5 double play to seal the victory.
“I have solid players in the field at every position,” Noga said. “It’s just a fine line when it comes to keeping focus and being in every play. When you’re focused and on task, you’re going to be there every play.”
Parkers prairie started the season 4-0 but came into Monday’s contest on a two-game losing streak.
“When we played the second game of a doubleheader against Pillager against a pitcher that, if I’m being honest, wasn’t very good and only scored one run,” Noga said. “We played New York Mills and had the same thing. We got in a slump against a hittable pitcher. The first four games, we hit the ball really well, so hopefully we are out of our slump now.”
Sieling knows what to expect when they take the field against a talented Parkers Prairie squad.
“John Noga is what makes Parkers who they are,” Sieling said. “He’s a tremendous coach. You know coming in, they’re going to be fundamentally sound. They’re going to have good hitters and throw strikes. They’re a well-coached and well-rounded team, and they came in and did the little things to score a lot of runs.”
Sieling was quick to point out that this wasn’t her team’s best game. She hopes her girls will take lessons from this loss and work on improving little things moving forward.
“Each one of them has to internally look at themselves and think about what they can do to improve,” Sieling said. “How can they take ownership over what went wrong in this game? Grow from it, and carry that into practice. We can’t go through the motions. We have to play to get better and with a purpose. If we can do that, have a short memory from this one and learn from it, we can move on.”