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Prep softball: Moose Lake/Willow River's 'got this' in run to state title game

The Rebels will face Nicollet in the Class A championship at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Caswell Park.

Softball Section Quarterfinals
Moose Lake/Willow River's Hallie Klavu runs home under pressure from Wabasha-Kellogg's Lauren Stumpf during the section 1A quarterfinal game at Caswell Park in North Mankato, Minnesota on Thursday, June 9, 2022. Moose Lake/Willow River won 9-0.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin
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NORTH MANKATO, Minn. — With Moose Lake/Willow River clinging to a one-run lead late over Randolph in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday at Caswell Park, Natalie Mikrot did what she does best.

She wiped out the Gophers’ Kylee Carey trying to steal second base and gave Rebels pitcher Sarah Christy a chance to do what she does best — strike people out.

Christy fanned McKenna Gergen and the Rebels preserved a 2-1 win over Randolph and clinched a spot in the Class A championship game.

Mikrot also picked off a runner on first base earlier in the game.

“I saw both runners, they were off base enough that I knew I could get them,” Mikrot said. “I knew my players were there and I trusted them enough to make the play and I just put it where they could play it.”

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The Rebels led 2-0 early on thanks to a first-inning home run and a third inning sacrifice fly from Sandra Ribich, but some miscues in the fifth inning allowed Randolph to tie the game.

“We beat ourselves in that moment,” Mikrot said. “We’re only as strong as our weakest link and the bottom of our lineup came through and hit us in and our defense, from that moment on, we picked ourselves up and we were ready to go.”

The Rebels took the lead back when Hannah Roach drove in Lily Kahara in the top of the seventh to set up Mikrot and Christy’s heroics in the bottom half of the inning.

Coach Kelly Goeb was proud of the way the team bounced back and beat the defending Class A champion.

“They walk onto a field expecting to win,” Goeb said. “When we’re down, they come back and try again — they still have that attitude of ‘We got this.” I mean they have it written on their wristbands, ‘We got this.’ That confidence is just unbelievable and I’m not sure where that comes from, but it’s here and I’m excited to be along for the ride."

MLWR (26-4) will play Nicollet in the Class A final at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Caswell Park. The Raiders advanced with a 4-1 win over Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian.

Christy dominates in quarterfinal

Christy did a little bit of everything in the Rebels' semifinal against Wabasha-Kellogg Thursday in the Class A quarterfinal at Caswell Park.

Christy struck out nine batters over six innings and recorded a double and two RBIs in the 8-0 win over the Falcons.

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“She came ready to play today,” Goeb said. “She’s super-excited to be here and she’s just been focused and you can see as the season went on how much more focused she became. She has very few walks and carries us with a lot of strikeouts. We’ve got a strong defense behind her and she trusts her team. She’s able to throw her pitches and if they hit it, we usually take care of it.”

Christy said said she started well and then the team’s defense came through whenever the Falcons put a ball in play on a very warm day.

Moose Lake-Willow River's Megan Hattenberger gets a hit.
Moose Lake-Willow River's Megan Hattenberger slaps a bloop hit in to shallow right field during the Rebels 8-0 win over Wabasha-Kellogg in the Class A quarterfinal Thursday in North Mankato.
Jamey Malcomb / Duluth News Tribune

“I felt I started out very strong,” Christy said. “I just kept that mentality of staying focused and working my hardest, even through this heat.”

The Rebels scored two early runs but didn’t really put the game away until they scored five in the bottom of the fifth inning. Still, they kept pressure on the Wabasha-Kellogg defense all day.

“Our guys have been working hard,” Goeb said. “We got that leadoff runner on and we found a way to get her home most of the time.”

More from Jamey Malcomb
The Rebels held an early lead, but Nicollet scored a run in the top of the eighth inning to win the state championship.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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