Class C 18-Under State Tournament runs better than ever
CLOQUET, Minn. - It's not easy running a state softball tournament. It takes hard work from putting everything together from the preparation and volunteers, to the field maintenance and the always-busy concession stand. But one thing is for certa...
CLOQUET, Minn. - It's not easy running a state softball tournament. It takes hard work from putting everything together from the preparation and volunteers, to the field maintenance and the always-busy concession stand. But one thing is for certain - no place could have hosted a better state softball tournament than at Braun Park.
The Cloquet baseball and softball complex was the host of the Class C 18-Under Minnesota State Softball Tournament Championships this past weekend.
"It was just another great tournament here in Cloquet," said Cloquet Youth Baseball/Softball Association President and Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Pumas head coach Jeff Woollett. "I heard nothing but compliments all weekend long."
The tournament included 17 of the best teams from all over the state of Minnesota, where in just two days, a grand total of 38 games were played and when all was said and done, Greenway Gold was crowned the state champions.
"I was so impressed with how well the tournament ran this weekend," said Woollett, who spent all last week preparing for the event. "Every team showed up, every game got played and we were right on time all weekend. We got a little rain, but we made it through. This weekend was just a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it."
Participating in the 17-team field was a handful of Northland teams, including the tournament runner-up Duluth Central, the Cloquet VFW Silver Bullets, Moose Lake and the CEC Pumas.
Of the local teams, the Cloquet VFW Silver Bullets led the way, being the only Carlton County squad to advance to Sunday. However, they unfortunately exited the tournament early with a 1-2 record. The Silver Bullets recorded an early 3-0 win over St. Cloud Tech Saturday morning, but followed it up with an 8-3 loss to the Triton Cobras Saturday night and 7-6 defeat to Austin early Sunday morning in the Round of 12.
"We're a very young team and only had two bad innings all weekend. Other than that, we played very well," said Silver Bullets head coach Kerry Rodd about his mostly 15-year-old ball club playing at the 18-year-old level. "One mistake at this level can put you out of a tournament quickly. But for us to play so solid this weekend really shows how talented this group is."
Woollett's CEC Pumas didn't fare much worse than the Silver Bullets, as they finished the tournament with a 0-3 record, but hung tough with all three of their opponents. The Pumas opened up with a 9-3 loss to International Falls, shortly before a tight 3-1 defeat to Moose Lake and a tournament-closing loss to St. Cloud Tech 7-3 Saturday afternoon.
"The girls were in every ball game they played in this weekend," Woollett said about his Pumas. "Having just one pitcher, I knew this weekend was going to be tough for our girls and I wasn't displeased with their efforts one bit."
Moose Lake, like the Pumas, also played all of their tournament games on Saturday, as they kicked things off with a difficult 1-0 loss to Hutchinson, followed by a 3-1 win over CEC and an 8-3 loss to the St. Cloud Huskers. In the evening, Moose Lake then defeated the Soderville Blue Ice 10-5 and ended their tournament Saturday night with a 6-0 loss to St. Cloud Tech.
"At times we struggled physically, but it was a very strong summer for a very young team of ours," said Rodd about his Silver Bullets that defeated state runner-up Duluth Central three times this summer. "I was so proud of the efforts the girls gave. They all worked hard and every one of the kids made strides. There has been a lot of growth in this program and this special group has what it takes to be great."
"I'm very pleased with how the girls performed all summer long," said Woollett about his Pumas. "The girls played well and this weekend was a whole lot of fun for everyone. The competition was great ... and I just want to thank everyone who helped out ... Because without them, this fun weekend wouldn't have been possible. We would have been sunk."