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Jenna Esala got the game-winning hit in the seventh inning to propel the Eagles to the final four in Section 6A. Bob Williams/FOCUS

Softball: Raiders and Eagles go the distance in 6A elimination game

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MENAHGA -- The New York Mills softball team advanced to the final four in Section 6A softball, but not without a late-inning scare from Lake Park-Audubon. The Eagles won by a score of 8-7.

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After six innings of play, NY Mills held a 7-4 lead, after scoring two insurance runs in the home half of the sixth.

The Raiders scored their four runs in the first three innings and had failed to threaten in the middle innings.

Jenna Esala scored on a base hit by Lexie Rankka and Sidney Imsande came home on a past ball to push the cushion to three runs after six.

Imsande was inserted into the lineup in the top half of the sixth when third baseman Amy Nebosis took a liner off her glove in the face. Nebosis was down for some time and left the field under her own power.

Cheyanne Nelson and Maegen Anderson reached base in the top of seven with one away to give LP-A catcher Tate Hall a shot at the plate as the tying run.

Hall launched a three-run home run over the left-center fence and the game was tied at seven. Eagles' starter Autumn Roberts settled down quickly after Hall's bomb and struck out Carissa Raaen and Laina Nelson to end the inning.

The order of appearance at the plate for the Eagles in their last at-bats was 9-1-2, the one being of significance.

Leadoff hitter EmaLeigh Roberts was going to reach base. She came to the plate 3-4 with a double and two singles.

Roberts laid down a bunt and reached easily. She advanced to second on a past ball and was pushed to third by a base hit from Autumn Roberts.

Autumn stole second base to eliminate the double play.

Esala smacked the Eagles' third consecutive single to score EmaLeigh Roberts and secure the victory.

Both pitchers went the distance. Autumn Roberts allowed seven runs, five earned on 12 hits. She struck out five and walked none.

Anderson took the loss allowing eight runs, seven earned. She scattered 15 hits, walked a pair and fanned eight. Anderson also led the Raiders at the plate. She was 3-4 with a RBI. Anderson scored twice.

EmaLeigh Roberts was near perfect at the plate going 4-5 with three RBI and two runs scored.

Six of Anderson's eight strikeouts came in the first two innings. As the Eagles moved through the order and got more looks at her pitches the runs followed suit.

The Raiders held a lead until the bottom of the fourth inning scoring once in the first, twice in the second and once more in the third.

The Eagles grabbed the lead in the bottom of the fourth.

Down 4-2, an EmaLeigh Roberts double scored Brooklyn Frost and Lydia Irons to tie the game. Roberts gave NY Mills their first lead 5-4 scoring from third on a past ball.

Frost was 3-3 with a double and two singles; she scored twice and knocked in a run.

Esala was 2-5 with a run scored and the game-winning RBI.

For the Raiders, three batters besides Anderson had multi-hit games.

Jessie Swegarden and Megan Hilfer were both 2-3. Swegarden scored once; Hilfer had one RBI. Raaen was 2-4 with one RBI.

Despite allowing 15 hits, the Raiders were aided defensively by multiple catches of a spectacular variety in center field by Swegarden. Swegarden robbed LeeAnn Flanigan of extra bases on a dead run to the left-center gap. The catch was the first and only out in the final half-inning of play.

The Eagles shortstop EmaLeigh Roberts went one better in making a put-out in a full dive on the left field line behind third base on a Texas Leaguer off the bat of Swegarden in the fourth inning.

Swegarden registered an assist on a play that gunned down Sharnea Witt at the plate to end the Eagles' fourth.

Rain hampered the early game and dissipated in the early innings of the 4 p.m. start.

The loss eliminated LP-A from the playoffs. The Raiders finished the season with a mark of 9-6.

The Eagles moved on to the double-elimination final four round of Section 6A playoffs and took the field minutes later to face Sebeka.

The Trojans made quick work of Frazee in the game prior to the Eagles/Raiders match-up. Sebeka won that game easily 18-3.

In the nightcap, Sebeka squeaked out a 5-4 victory over NY Mills to advance to the 6A semifinals.

The Eagles will play in Menahga again Tuesday, May 29 against Brandon-Evansville.

Brandon-Evansville was punched to the loser's bracket after a 13-8 loss to Parkers Prairie in Brandon.

Sebeka (19-4) and Parkers Prairie (10-9) will play at 2 p.m. NY Mills (15-7) and Brandon-Evansville (10-7) will follow at 4 p.m. The winner of that game will play the loser of the first game at 6 p.m. to advance to the finals.

The finals will be played on Thursday, May 31. Two games will be played, if necessary. Play is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

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Robert Williams
Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
(218) 346-5900 x223
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