’Jacks earn rematch against Hermantown in section playoffsThe Lumberjacks handily defeated the Rebels last week, but now face Hermantown in the section playoffs in Cohasset at 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 25.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
It was hard to imagine a better outcome for the Cloquet softball team.
Three innings into their Section 7AA first-round playoff game against Moose Lake-Willow River, the ’Jacks were locked in a scoreless tie.
Two innings later, Cloquet had emerged a 13-0 winner and their pitcher, sophomore Chandler Beaupre, was celebrating a no-hitter.
“She only allowed four base-runners,” Cloquet Coach Ron Tondryk said. “She allowed three walks and a batter reached on a dropped third strike, and that runner was later caught stealing. It’s hard to argue with that.”
Beaupre struck out eight batters in a virtually faultless
“We needed a game like that,” Tondryk said. “It was a good win for us but we have preached it all year. We wanted to play our brand of ball. Throw the ball over the plate, let the defense play defense, and try to move runners.”
At times, defense and clutch hitting have been maddening inconsistencies for the team, but Tuesday the ’Jacks had both in abundance.
A five-run third inning and an eight-run fourth set the stage for Beaupre to slam the door on the Rebels in the fifth inning.
“That’s what we needed,” Tondryk repeated. “We talked about getting momentum on our side and hitting is contagious.”
Hitting machine Kayla Masessa had two hits and scored twice while Dalyce Gustafson had two hits in three trips and drove in two runs. Shania Paulson drove in a pair of runs and Lizz Jezierski had two hits as well. Beaupre helped her own cause with a double off the fence and a single in three trips to the plate.
All that work gives Cloquet (10-8) the right to try to do in the second round what it couldn’t do in last year’s section finals: beat perennial section champion Hermantown. The teams will meet at 3 p.m. Thursday in Cohasset with the Hawks – seemingly as always – the top seed.
“It’s the ultimate test,” Tondryk said. “They’re the defending champs and we lost out to them in the finals last year. Everything in this section goes through Hermantown so we might as well [play them] early.”
The quarterfinals, however, leave no margin for error. The double-elimination portion of the section tournament doesn’t begin until the semifinals, so a loss Thursday will end the losing team’s season.
“This is the time of year you want to peak,” Tondryk said. “The seniors know what needs to be done and they have been there before. It’s up to them. Hopefully the Moose Lake game will be a ‘pick-up’ game that builds confidence heading into the Hermantown game.”