"There are teachable moments all the time in baseball," Haugen said. "I just wish we could have had those moments at state instead, for the kids' sake."
p>Emanuel hopes to use the team's unseeded status as motivation. "We want to let them know that this is our house, too, and we didn't just happen to get here," he said. "These kids have been here before." The coach says the key to it all will be hitting. "We have to hit well, exceptionally well," he said. "I would like us to show the whole state how we can hit. I think we're ready."
> The Bulldogs executed a letter-perfect suicide squeeze to score their second run of the inning against Cherry — and then held on to dethrone the seven-time defending section champion Tigers 9-7, earning the school's first trip to the state tournament. The victory also avenged a loss to the Tigers in last season's championship game. "They were so happy and proud of themselves for beating a good team back-to-back," said Clark, a 2010 Carlton graduate.
"They didn't play in the match we wanted to play," Johnson said, "but this was a lot of fun."
"We were just overmatched," coach Ron Tondryk said. "The teams we played just outplayed us, and sometimes that happens."
"I think it'll be a good game with two good teams on the field, and I feel like if my girls are all on at the same time we can take a good run at them." The best news for Carlton is that their team has no seniors, which means the future is bright. "We're young and that is a good and bad thing," Clark said. "Our kids need to realize that Cherry is good, but once the game starts they are a team just like any other team. Cherry can't win just by showing up. They'll have to beat us and our confidence is high after three wins Tuesday. I hope we can keep it rolling through Thursday."
> The Eskomos (21-2) will face Virginia (15-7) at 4 p.m. today (Thursday, June 1) in Grand Rapids, with the Eskomos undefeated in the double-elimination event. The Blue Devils will need two wins to advance, with a second game scheduled immediately after the first if Virginia wins. Esko, which had a 14-game winning streak snapped May 19 by Jackson County Central, knocked off Virginia 6-3 in Grand Rapids Tuesday. Ashley Pollema paced Esko with a three-run homer in the sixth inning.
Two Cloquet boys tennis players have reached the last four of the Section 7A singles tournament — and might well play each other at some point during Thursday's semifinals and finals. Fifth-seed Dan Stevens and third-seed Peter Tomhave both won a pair of matches at Longview Tennis Club in Duluth on Tuesday to reach the semifinals. "They both played well," coach Derek Johnson said. "They both have winnable matches in the semis too and if things bounce right it could be a special day."
> "We like to try to be three deep at every event," Prosen said. "That depth is important and you saw it there." Prosen also had kind words for Denman. "I don't know if I've seen anyone more dedicated to running than Conner," he said. "He is going to LaCrosse next year and they have a great program. He will fit in very well there." <
> Like Horbacz, Carlson said keeping his players engaged and interested is important. "We want players who are going to go out in the summer and keep playing and improve," he said. "We think that over time we will have a few good players come out of this group and that will help." The boys team is arguably closer to success than the girls are, but both teams are making progress. "We do think that next season if we keep improving, we can challenge at a conference level and have golfers who can make some noise at sections," Horbacz said. "It's in them, they just have to keep improving." Carlson is happy with the interest being shown in the game in the cooperative team's communities. "We have kids who want to play," he said. "They enjoy the game and we are optimistic for the future."