Blast finish second at State“We had a memorable weekend.” Coach Tyler Korby was perhaps given to understatement in describing his 16-and under girls softball team, the Blast, which last weekend placed as runners-up in the ASA Class C U-16 state tournament in Sauk Rapids.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
“We had a memorable weekend.”
Coach Tyler Korby was perhaps given to understatement in describing his 16-and under girls softball team, the Blast, which last weekend placed as runners-up in the ASA Class C U-16 state tournament in Sauk Rapids.
“Those girls will never forget it,” Korby said. “Last year these girls went to state in U-14 and we came back after the minimum of three games. This year it was pretty fun down there.”
Cloquet finished 4-2 with losses only to the state champion Bemidji Renegades.
A 13-1 record in the Lake Superior Fastpitch League earned Cloquet the No. 1 Lake Superior Region seed. Games Saturday against Northfield and Sleepy Eye resulted in 5-4 and 3-2 wins, respectively, that kept the team in the winner’s bracket heading into Sunday’s play.
That day, however, was grueling, with the team playing four times.
An 8-2 win over Staples in the morning got the team into the semifinals and its first meeting against the Renegades, resulting in a 6-1 loss.
Dropped to the losers’ bracket, Cloquet responded with a 5-4, come-from-behind win to eliminate Staples and reach the title game.
Once there, however, the Renegades defeated Cloquet 5-0 to end the tournament and claim the championship.
“By that point we were a little gassed,” Korby said.
To make the accomplishment even more impressive, the team played six games in just over 24 hours with only 10 players.
“Chandler Beaupre did all the pitching in the tournament,” Korby said. “She looked pretty tired about midway through the last game, but she fought through it. The girls worked really hard. I was
blown away with how they
Catcher Jade Benko has caught every inning of every game this summer as well.
“She’s a real luxury to have back there,” Korby said.
Korby said the result was a total team effort.
“We scattered some hits around,” he said. “The top of the order was really good, and the bottom of the order did a nice job putting the ball in play. We did a lot of fundamental things right, including bunting the ball.”
Rather remarkably, all four Cloquet wins were come-from-behind efforts.
“It showed a lot of character for the kids to be able to come back like that,” Korby said. “Last year and during the junior varsity season they might have folded a bit. But this time nothing cracked them. The positive attitude led to success.”
The team will conclude its season Wednesday night in the playoffs of the Lake Superior League in its 45th game of the summer.
“We’re at that point where we’re ready to be done,” Korby said. “We’re proud to have made it to the last day of the season.”
The team is 27-16-1 heading into its last games and has played tournaments in Superior, Grand Rapids, Duluth and Eagan in addition to the state tourney in Sauk Rapids.
“I got a text message from (Cloquet varsity) Coach (Ron) Tondryk saying ‘Cloquet softball is back,’” Korby said. “We’re really proud of that. For a town team to reach a championship game really says something for these kids.”
Team members included Breanne Baker, Averi Handcock, Katrina Smith, Sammy Zeadow, Kristi Anderson, Abbey Wangen, Devan Masessa, Michaela Sunnarborg, Chandler Beaupre and Jade Benko.
“All these kids make the job easy and fun,” Korby said. “I’m proud to be their coach. I’m lucky to be their coach.”