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Thunder softball team opens 2009 season

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sports Cloquet, 55720
Cloquet Minnesota 122 Avenue C 55720

The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Thunder Softball team opened their 2009 season with a bang by pounding out a 20-1 win against Minot State University-Bottineau on Monday, March 16, as part of the Minnesota Classic Tournament inside the Irish Dome in Rosemount, Minn. The Thunder dropped their next game 9-3 to perennial powerhouse Ridgewater Community College, who were the 2008 Region 13 Champion and seventh-place finisher in the 2008 NJCAA Division III National Tournament. The Thunder bounced back in their third game of the day, avenging the earlier loss with a 6-2 victory over Ridgewater to post a record of two wins and one loss on the day. The Thunder returned to the Irish Dome Thursday for three more games as part of the Minnesota Classic Tournament.

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Highlights in the 20-1 season-opening victory over MSU-Bottineau included a two-hitter by Thunder pitcher Steph Englemeier (Hermantown), who recorded seven strikeouts in the time-shortened game. Leanne Gittings (Cloquet) went 2-for-3 at the plate with two doubles, three RBIs and scored three times. Last year's national batting average leader Stacie Miller (Esko) went 1-for-2 with one RBI and scored three runs. Joanna Vellekoop (St. Louis Park) went 2-for-2 with five RBIs and scored two runs.

The second game loss to Ridgewater was a struggle for the Thunder as they were limited to three hits and committed five errors. Stacie Miller went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, and Andrea Morris (AlBrook) contributed a double in a 1-for-2 effort at the plate. Joanna Vellekoop took the pitching loss.

In their final game of the day, the Thunder jumped out to a 3-0 lead, and then stretched it to 6-0 in the top of the seventh inning before losing the shutout by giving up two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

Steph Englemeier pitched a seven-inning complete game to move her record to 2-0, scattering eight hits with only one walk and one earned run. The Thunder defense was solid in the field behind her, giving up only one error on the Irish Dome turf. Jen Orn (Barnum) went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs, and Steph Saylor (Wrenshall) went 3-for-3 with two doubles and one RBI.

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