Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2000

The Austin Packers will see a lot of familiar faces in familiar surroundings this weekend.

Thursday, June 08, 2000

The Austin Packers will see a lot of familiar faces in familiar surroundings this weekend.

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Austin and four other teams our returning to the big schools’ state tournament (the first year of a three-class Minnesota State Softball Tournament) at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

The Packers will be joined in the upper half of the draw with three other returning teams – the defending state champions, the Minnetonka Skippers; Big Nine foe and 1998 and 1999 consolation champions, Mankato East; and last year’s third-place team, Totino-Grace. The fifth team that is back again is Forest Lake, led by junior pitcher Allison Paitich. Paitich was a member of last year’s All-Tournament team.

The Packers’ quarterfinals opponent is Minnetonka. The Skippers beat the Packers 5-0 in last year’s semifinals game. Skippers’ junior pitcher Lyn Peyer threw three shutouts to lead her team to the state title. Seven of the nine Packers starters faced Peyer last spring – seniors Sara Turvey, Lauren Feller, Brooke Gentzler and Jamie Nieland, and juniors Megan Olsen, Tiffany Poirier and Rhianna Jacobs.

This year Peyer has racked up a 20-2 record, posting a 0.17 ERA and striking out 212.

Win or lose against Peyer, the Packers will face another familiar foe next. The more familiar is, of course, the Mankato East Cougars. The Packers and Cougars split a doubleheader at Todd Park this year. The Packers won the first game, 1-0, with the lone run scored by Brooke Gentzler. She hit one of her three home runs on the season in the game. Freshman pitcher Amy Kelly threw the shutout. Game two saw the Packers make a few too many miscues in the field, five errors, and they lost, 8-2.

East is led by five All Big Nine players – junior pitcher Kelly Terrell, Ty Ries, Biz Landwehr, Emily Vogel and Briggs Rolfsrud. Austin has four All Big Nine players – Gentlzer, Turvey, Feller and Kelly. Two other Packers earned honorable mention – Nieland and Olsen.

If the Packers meet up with Totino-Grace, they will see the familiar faces of Joanna Naumann and Sara Medved, who both were named to last year’s all-tournament team. Medved, a junior, is the top pitcher for Totino-Grace. She also is one of its top hitters along with Naumann. In last year’s third-place game, the Eagles beat the Packers 2-1 in eight innings.