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Baseball team off to rough start

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The saving grace for the Packers is that the baseball season is still young; however, they clearly are not off to a good start.

Eight games into the year, West Fargo has but a pair of wins under its belt and is winless in the EDC in three tries.

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During one six-game stretch over three days last week, the Packers gave up 44 runs and committed 18 errors. When West Fargo fielded the ball cleanly as they did against Wilmar (Minn.) in the Marshall Tournament, they won the only game of that six-game stretch with no errors.

The pitching that looked so solid in the season-opening double header at Thief River Falls hasn't continued. The Packers have found it difficult to maintain a steady pitching rotation with such a crowded schedule.

"Our pitching is getting a little shaky, but I think it's still there," said senior catcher Aaron Sanderson. "I think people are going to have to start stepping up for us."

Sanderson pointed to team defense, saying the team needs to improve on its fielding more than anything.

"It's a lot of mental things," said senior outfielder Peter Weber. "We're not just thinking about (fielding). We just try to go through the motions instead of actually thinking about what we're doing."

Monday's doubleheader against Wahpeton was postponed because of weather; a makeup date has not yet been announced. Results from yesterday's games against Fargo North were not available before press time. The planned season opener against Fargo South that was snowed out early this month has been rescheduled for May 8.

The Packers host Grand Forks Red River on Saturday. Weber thinks the Packers have plenty of time to get things back on track and make a repeat trip to the state tournament.

"I definitely think we can," he said. "We just need some solid innings from our pitchers and to not make those mental errors. We'll be fine."

Softball struggles in MN

The Packer softball team isn't off to a hot start either - although it won't matter in the standings. West Fargo is 3-0 against North Dakota competition so far this season, but only 1-4 against Minnesota teams after losing three of four last week.

The 4-4 Packers dropped games to Thief River Falls, Moorhead and Alexandria, but were able to beat Detroit Lakes at the Detroit Lakes Tournament last weekend.

West Fargo's top pitchers - senior Ally McCracken and junior Andrea Sluke - are both 2-2 on the season. The Packers were scheduled to host Fargo North at home yesterday; results were unavailable before press time.

Denne out of action

While the Packer girls' track and field team continues last season's success during the early part of the year, there is one glaring absence from the team. Junior Sarah Denne - one of the state's top sprinters - has been shelved with a foot injury that causes heel pain when she runs on her toes.

"It's not so bad when I run (normal)," said Denne. "It's sprinting on my toes when the pain gets really bad, and obviously it's important for a sprinter to be able to run on your toes."

Denne said there's a good chance she'll compete in actual competition at some point this year. Meanwhile, she alternates between riding an exercise bike and running in practice. She's attended every meet this year as a spectator.

"I like to time some people in the sprint events and see how everybody is doing," she said. "It's still early, and I still have some time to get back out there. It's pretty frustrating, but I try to stay positive and not think about it too much."

Denne anchored the state champion 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams last season and finished fourth individually in the 100 and 200 meets.

In her absence, the Packers won the Sertoma held at West Fargo last week and finished second at the Moorhead Invite to Brainerd.

Sophomore Ellie Grooters continues to win her hurdling events and has added the high jump to her portfolio winning the event in multiple meets already this season. Sophomore Maria Brekkestran won the discus at the Moorhead Invite, while eighth-grader Alissa Mears continues to dominate long distance competitions both individually and on relay teams. She won the 4x800 along with senior Cassandra Sayler, junior Ashley Reiter and freshman Britny Bucholz at Moorhead by almost 10 seconds.

Plenty of young talent

There's no shortage of young talent on the boys' track team this season. Junior Cody Mammenga headlines the Packer throwers and has consistently been in the top three in the shot put so far this year.

Junior Billy Kuehn has also turned heads with a second place finish at the Moorhead Invite and a win at the Sertoma.

The Packers' 4x800 relay team of sophomores Spencer Uetz and Jamison Gehrig and seniors Lane Nelson and Travis Stadum has already bested last season's 3200 relay effort at the state meet.

Junior Luke Solum and sophomore Justin Gibson finished second and third, respectively, at Moorhead in the 200.

West Fargo won the five-team Sertoma held at West Fargo last week and took fifth at the Moorhead Invite.

Soccer team struggles

The Packer girls' soccer team lost 3-0 to Fargo South last week before going west and losing to Bismarck Century and tying Bismarck.

West Fargo (2-3-1 overall, 0-2 EDC) hasn't won in four games and sits in a tie for last place with Devils Lake in the EDC. The Packers play at Devils Lake tomorrow; results from yesterday's matchup versus Fargo Shanley were unavailable before press time.

Packer of the Week...

...goes to Ellie Grooters, who won every individual meet she was signed up for last week in two separate meets, taking two titles apiece in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and long jump at the Sertoma and at Moorhead.

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