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Cloquet picks up their first win

The Cloquet softball team is finally back on the field after the long winter marred the start of the season.

The 'Jacks picked up their first win of the season in three tries with a 5-1 win at Superior on Tuesday.

Chandler Beaupre went the distance to earn the win for Cloquet, scattering six hits over seven innings while striking out seven and walking no one.

Makayla Langenbrunner drove in two runs for Cloquet, while Katrina Smith added a third.

"We beat a good-hitting Superior team," Coach Ron Tondryk said. "Chandler got her pitches in for strikes, her change-up and off-speed pitches over the plate, and got a rise ball going. It was good to come out with a win."

The win came after two losses to start the season including a 6-3 loss to Hermantown, the team the 'Jacks knocked out of the playoffs last spring.

"We need some time on the dirt," Tondryk said. "We made six errors in our other game (an 8-4 loss to Virginia on Monday) and if you take those errors out, we win the ballgame."

Beaupre pitched in that game as well, and allowed only two earned runs.

"We weren't prepared to play," Tondryk said. "We needed to get back to Cloquet softball and we did that against Superior."

But now with better weather ahead, the 'Jacks will try to cram as much softball as possible into the last few weeks of the school year.

"We had some discussions over a three-week period when we were in the gym," Tondryk said. "We can't do anything about the weather. All we can do is manage ourselves and how this affects our attitude. We had to refocus."

While some coaches feel badly for their seniors due to the poor weather at the start of the spring, Tondryk isn't one ... because the varsity has no senior players.

"We lost six starters to graduation last year, so we lost a lot of experience," he said. "We also had some injuries to players that had time to heal before we started the season, and we're ready to get out there and play. Also, with no seniors, that's a silver lining."

The schedule is jam-packed between now and the end of the spring, so much so that some games won't be made up.

"Our priority is conference games first and games against section opponents second," Tondryk said. "We have games against teams like Hibbing, Greenway, Esko and Mora that won't be played."

The condensed schedule also means Tondryk will have to get to know his young team in fewer games than in past years.

"We're very confident in the kids coming up," Tondryk said. "They don't have a lot of varsity experience but they have lots of playing time thanks to JV and summer ball and we have coaches like (assistant softball coach) Tyler Korby to thank for that."

"We're not expecting a lot of mistakes on the field because the kids have the experience, but just not at the varsity level," Tondryk added. "For these kids, it's time to step in and step up."