GARDINER — The Gardiner softball team used perseverance and a little mojo from an old softball to win its first game of the Eastern Class B playoffs.

Not just any softball, but the ball used by the 1980 Tigers softball team, the last in school history to win a state championship.

No. 1 Gardiner beat No. 9 Medomak Valley 8-4 on Thursday in an Eastern Class B quarterfinal game at Somerville Field.

The Tigers will face No. 4 Hermon — who beat No. 5 Nokomis 4-0 Thursday — in the semifinals Saturday in Gardiner.

Gardiner (16-1) took an early 4-0 lead. But Medomak Valley (11-7) fought back with a four-run fifth inning to tie the game. Gardiner answered back with four runs in the bottom of the inning to take an 8-4 lead.

“I’m very proud of the team, that was a quality Medomak team,” Gardiner coach Ginger Shaw said. “I told them that they were going to battle. You don’t take any four (run lead) for granted, because that’s a quality team and they can come back.”

The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Kristal Smith and Brittany Rollins led the inning off with singles and Lillian Chepke walked to load the bases. Ellie Luken plated Smith with an RBI single, while Rollins scored on a walk to Steph Plourde. Chepke later scored on a fielder’s choice.
Smith and Rollins teamed up again to add another run in the third inning. Smith singled and made it to third on a single by Rollins. The duo then atttempted a double steal, with Rollins making it safely to second and Smith scoring from third to give Gardiner a 4-0 lead.

Two innings later, the Panthers responded. Bridgette Miller led the inning off with a single, Taylor Simmons walked and Amanda Hendrickson singled to load the bases. Abigail Maguire smacked a pitch to left field, plating Miller and Simmons, and Danielle Hunt and Hannah Marks each had RBI singles to tie the game at 4.

Gardiner added four more runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by a two-run single to center field by Rollins, to take the 8-4 lead.

“It felt really good to come back today, knowing that we can actually do that,” Rollins said. “It’s a big step for us. It felt good. Usually we do get down on ourselves, but we’ve been working really hard on staying positive through the whole (game).”

Rollins went 3 for 3 with two RBIs and two stolen bases for Gardiner. She also came in relief of Smith in the fifth inning. Smith earned the win, while Rollins closed the door on the Panthers, striking out three in the seventh inning to end the game.

Before the game, Gardiner passed around a softball from 1980 championship team. Shaw claimed the ball was used to bring the team “mojo.”

“This is the mojo,” Shaw said. “The kids are really hungry to make their mark on Gardiner history. When they brought that ball in, that was a little inspiration, I guess you could say. And guess what? It’ll be there Saturday.”

Dave Dyer — 621-5639
[email protected]

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