The Spring Lake Park softball team had its back against the wall after a 13-4 second round loss on May 23 to top-seeded Maple Grove in the Section 5AAAA tournament. One more loss would end the season.
But the Panthers battled back, all the way to Game 2 of the section championship game June 1. SLP, who was the No. 5 seed, forced the second game after defeating Maple Grove 8-4 earlier in the day. With a winner-take-all game set, Maple Grove got the upperhand in a 5-4 win against the defending section champs.
It was a rematch of last year’s section title game.
After the second round loss, the Panthers scored three shutout wins in a row. They defeated Irondale 7-0 and Osseo 5-0 on May 25. They then won 2-0 against Champlin Park on May 30 to advance to the championship.
In the double-elimination format, SLP would have to beat Maple Grove twice to reach the state tournament.
SLP got it done in Game 1. In Game 2, the Panthers had to battle back from a 4-0 deficit after the first inning. Entering the seventh down 5-2, they scored two runs to make it 5-4. But with the bases loaded and two outs, Maple Grove was able to secure the final out to punch its ticket to state.
The Panthers end their season 11-16 overall.