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Prep softball: Cards fall in 9 to Fergus

Willmar freshman pitcher Leah Ruter windmills in the fourth inning at Willmar High School. She carried a shutout into the sixth inning and would throw all nine innings, allowing only two earned runs, in the 5-3 loss to the Fergus Falls Otters.1 / 2
Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Willmar Cardinals first baseman Laura Swartz has the ball waiting to tag out Swointek of Fergus Falls in the fourth inning. The spot-on throw came from catcher Addy Nelsen, who threw out two other Otters on the bases.2 / 2

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals lost an overtime thriller to Fergus Falls on Thursday in perfect weather on the new softball field where an appreciative crowd watched in the evening glow.

The Otters scored a pair of runs in the top of the ninth to grab the 5-3 Central Lakes victory.

The loss didn't diminish the fine pitching effort of freshman Leah Ruter, who has had to step to the varsity slab with Heather Horning trying to mend a bad back.

Ruter walked 3, fanned 10 and worked around 11 hits and 5 errors in the field. Only the ninth inning runs were earned.

Horning, a junior, at least got the chance to bat for the first time in two weeks.

And was she every ready to get back in the action.

In the sixth, Horning pinch-hit for Laura Swartz with Sarah Roehl on second base. She walloped a 2-run homer over the left-field fence to tie the score 2-2.

After neither team scored in the seventh, the Otters posted a run in the top of the eight. Roehl had reached on a single when Horning re-entered for the second and final time. Roehl again was on board, after hitting a single. Horning connected for a single to tie the score 3-3.

Fergus scored the game-winning run in the top of the ninth on a pop-fly to shallow center that got the base runner in from third. The Otters padded their lead with an RBI single.

The Cards went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.

Next week Willmar travels to Alexandria for a pair on Monday, goes to St. Cloud Tech on Tuesday and is home for games with Sartell on Thursday and Apollo on Friday. Ruter will have to carry the pitching load with Horning not expected to be able to resume pitching until the following week.*

Note: a roster for the visiting Otters was unavailable at the game or on the MSHSL website.

Fergus Falls 5, Willmar 2

Fergus Falls 000 002 012 -- 5 11 0

Willmar 000 002 010 -- 3 10 5

HITTING - Fergus Falls: King 2-for-5, Swointek 2-for-5, Smith 2-for-5, rbi ... Willmar: Lindsey Atchison 2-for-4, Sarah Roehl 3-for-4, 2 runs; Heather Horning 2-for-2, 3 rbi, 2-run HR; Casey Marcus 1-for-3, Kassie Boller 1-for-3, Kassy Linbo 1-for-4

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Fergus Falls: Knudson (W) 9-10-3-3-0-7 ... Willmar: Leah Ruter (L) 9-11-5-2-3-10