Hitters connect in softball quarterfinalsIf anyone doubted that the new 43-foot pitching distance is cause for hitters to celebrate, Thursday’s Section 7AA quarterfinal games were prima facie evidence against that belief.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
CLOQUET — If anyone doubted that the new 43-foot pitching distance is cause for hitters to celebrate, Thursday’s Section 7AA quarterfinal games were prima facie evidence against that belief.
All four games at Braun Park were slugfests, including top-seeded Cloquet’s 8-5 come-from-behind win over Greenway.
“That three extra feet, you can see the ball a lot better; it’s making a huge difference,” Cloquet coach Ron Tondryk said. “It’s not a sure thing with a couple run lead.”
Greenway failed to hold an early 3-0 advantage as the Lumberjacks rallied with four runs in the third inning and two more in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
Still, the game was in doubt as the Raiders scored a run and loaded the bases in the top of the seventh.
“That made it exciting for everybody,” Tondryk said. “Greenway is always battlers. Our pitcher, Denise Rodd, beared down and got the final outs on a line drive and a popup to second.”
Cloquet (12-4) advances to play Moose Lake-Willow River (10-8) in the final four round at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Cohasset.
The Lumberjacks didn’t get that far last year, but after defeating Hermantown in the regular season and pushing Duluth Central for the Lake Superior Conference championship, this might be their year. Their comeback Thursday, aided by two hits apiece from Makenzie Korby and Shania Paulson and two RBIs from Korby and Lizz Jezierski, proved that.
“There’s always pressure (in the single-elimination games),” Tondryk said. “Last year we got beat out in the second round and didn’t make the final four. But the kids played with confidence and knew they can hit the ball.”
EVELETH-GILBERT 9, TWO HARBORS 7
The Golden Bears rallied from a 4-0 deficit with three runs in the fourth, two in the fifth and broke a 5-5 tie with four runs in the sixth.
The first eight Eveleth-Gilbert batters reached base in the sixth as Megan Preiner, Jessica Richart, Maari Benda and Hannah Kreibich scored. Benda was 3-for-4, while Nikki Coldagelli had a two-run double and an RBI single.
The Golden Bears (15-6), who advance to play Hermantown in Tuesday’s final four, had 10 hits and struck out just twice against Madison Olson, who led the Northland with more than 200 strikeouts this season.
The Agates (13-6) rallied to score two runs and put two runners on with two outs in the seventh, but Megan Preiner struck out the final batter to preserve the win.
HERMANTOWN 8, PROCTOR 4
Celine Francisco reached base all four times and drove in two runs as the Hawks (13-6) kept alive their bid to win the section for the 10th consecutive time they have contested it.
Pitcher Katie Thun had an RBI triple and struck out 13, but had to survive a late three-run Rails rally.
MOOSE LAKE-WILLOW RIVER 10, VIRGINIA 6
The Rebels scored seven runs in the second inning and then hung on to win the error-filled game.
Olivia Bennett had a pair of RBIs and Samantha Johnson tossed a five-hitter for MLWR, which sprinted to a 10-2 lead before Vicky Fossland’s grand slam in the bottom of the seventh closed the gap.
The Blue Devils committed six errors and the Rebels had four.
By Minnesota Coaches Association
1. Burnsville; 2. North St. Paul; 3. Hastings; 4. Bloomington Jefferson; 5. Shakopee; 6. Hopkins; 7. Totino-Grace; 8. Brainerd; 9. Stillwater; 10. Forest Lake.
Others receiving votes: Maple Grove, Centennial, Duluth Central.
1. Mankato East; 2. St. Anthony Village; 3. Park Center; 4. Zumbrota-Mazeppa; 5. Pipestone; 6. Hermantown; 7. St. Paul Johnson; 8. New Ulm; 9. Rocori and Cloquet.
Others receiving votes: Morris, Mound-Westonka, Winona Cotter, Redwood Valley, Ottertail Central, St. Peter.
1. New Ulm Cathedral; 2. Martin County West; 3. Cherry-Cotton; 4. New Life Academy; 5. Blooming Prairie; 6. Hawley; 7. Osakis; 8. Lewiston-Altura; 9. Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg; 10. Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s.
Others receiving votes: Badger/Greenbush-Middle River, Wabasso, Murray County Central, Mankato Loyola, Lester Prairie-Holy Trinity.