St. Croix Central's Grace Melstrom

St. Croix Central pitcher Grace Melstrom struck out seven and walked just three in 7 ⅓-innings in the Panthers’ 4-3 loss to Osceola Thursday, May 6. Bob Burrows / Star-Observer photo

St. Croix Central pitcher Grace Melstrom allowed just five hits in seven-plus innings and the Panthers outhit Osceola 11-5 but couldn’t produce the same numbers in the run column as the home Chieftains pushed across a run in the bottom of the eighth to walk off with a 5-4 victory.

The loss was the third straight for the Panthers to start the season, but head coach Mike Nilssen said the team is showing plenty of signs of improvement.

“The girls are playing much better,” he said. “I made a bad call that cost us two runs but we've come a long way in two weeks.”

Central took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Faith Bonse singled, moved all the way to third on a bunt single by Carlee Lyon, and scored when Trinity Gafford hit into a fielder’s choice.

Maelstrom helped herself in the fifth with a two-run single that plated Lyon and Gafford to extend the Panther lead to 3-0 but Osceola answered with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie things up.

Melstrom retired the Chieftains in order in the seventh to send the game to extra innings and Skylee Wolske singled with one out in the top of the eighth but was left stranded. Osceola loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth and Melstrom got a popup for one out but a fly ball to left allowed the Chieftains to score the game-winning run.

Melstrom ended up allowing just one earned run while striking out seven and walking three in 7 ⅓-innings of work.

“Grace Melstrom threw a gem,” Nilssen stated.

Melstrom, Bonse and Lyon all had two hits in the loss and Maddie Rydberg doubled while Gracie Delander, Skylee Wolske, Catherine Skoglund and Izzy Sabelko had one hit each.

The Panthers will return to action Friday, May 7, at home against St. Croix Falls.

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