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Prep softball: Moose Lake/Willow River advances to Section 7A final with win over Carlton/Wrenshall

The Rebels plated 10 runs in their win over the Raptors after being held to only one run in their previous meeting in the Section 7A quarterfinals.

Infielder prepares to throw to first base
Carlton/Wrenshall's Eva Fisher tries to throw out Moose Lake/Willow River's Lily Kahara during a Section 7A tournament game held at Braun Park, Tuesday, May 31.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — With a spot in the Section 7A championship game hanging in the balance, top-seeded Moose Lake/Willow River flexed its muscles offensively with a monster day at the plate to defeat No. 5 Carlton/Wrenshall 10-0 in six innings Tuesday, May 31 at Braun Park.

The victory sets up a meeting with No. 2 seed Cherry, which has yet to lose a game in the Section 7A tournament after knocking off the Raptors in walk-off fashion earlier in the day to win the championship bracket.

MLWR coach Kelly Goeb said confidence will be key heading into the difficult matchup with the Tigers, which the Rebels will have to beat twice to advance to the state tournament.

“I think we just need to have a lot of confidence going into those games on Thursday. We know we have to beat them twice, but if we play like we did today, we’re going to be pretty hard to beat,” Goeb said.

Infielder throws to first base
Moose Lake/Willow River's Maci Kukuk throws to first base during a Section 7A tournament game against Carlton/Wrenshall at Braun Park, Tuesday, May 31.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

The loss for Carlton/Wrenshall marks the end of their season, with an overall record of 12-7. While the outcome was not the one they had hoped for, Raptors coach Brent Pokornowski said there’s plenty in which to be proud of.

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“There’s nothing wrong with losing to two top teams in the state. That’s the competitiveness in us,” Pokornowski said. “I think there’s 135 Single A teams in the state of Minnesota. We were at one point 39th (and) we ended up being 18th in the QRF (Quality Results Formula).”

The Rebels, currently occupying the No. 3 spot in the Class A QRF rankings, showed why they're one of the state’s best with an impressive display at the plate against the Raptors’ top pitcher Abby Mitchell, who held them to only a single run in their previous meeting in the quarterfinals.

Pitcher throws the ball
Carlton/Wrenshall's Abby Mitchell delivers a pitch during a Section 7A tournament game against Moose Lake/Willow River at Braun Park, Tuesday, May 31.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

After a pair of scoreless innings to start the game, MLWR drew first blood in the bottom of the third via a sacrifice fly by Sandra Ribich to score Hallie Klavu, who reached base with a one-out walk. The 1-0 lead held until their next time up when the Rebels plated four more runs to extend their lead to five.

The four-run inning began with a bunt single from Lily Kahara, who was waved home three batters later on a two-RBI single by Hannah Roach. An error in the field led to the team’s fourth run before Klavu capped off the frame with another RBI single to extend the lead to 5-0.

Outfielder tries to make a catch
Carlton/Wrenshall's Carley Lawry tries to make a catch in the outfield during a Section 7A tournament game against Moose Lake/Willow River at Braun Park, Tuesday, May 31.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

MLWR pitcher Sarah Christy ensured the lead was in safe-keeping with a strong outing in the circle for the Rebels, where she threw all six innings.

“She is somebody I have been proud of this entire season,” Goeb said of Christy. “She’s worked hard, she’s a team leader (and) she’s one of our leading hitters. She comes out and she plays hard in the big games and pitches more strikeouts than I’ve seen any pitcher we’ve ever had.”

The Rebels put the Raptors away for good in the bottom of the sixth with five more runs highlighted by extra-base hits from Megan Hattenberger, Sandra Ribich and Christy to end the game at 10-0.

Cherry 3, Carlton/Wrenshall 2

A pitcher’s duel between the Raptors’ Mitchell and Cherry’s Lauren Staples was decided in the final frame with the Tigers walking off victorious and securing their spot in the championship as winners of the championship bracket.

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The Tigers opened the scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning with one run, but left three runners stranded after a strikeout and a pop fly out got the Raptors out of the jam.

Carlton/Wrenshall took its first and only lead of the game in the top of the fifth inning via a two-RBI single from Janae Sjodin to plate Kennedy Siiter and Carley Lawry, who previously reached on an error and a double, respectively.

The 2-1 score held until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Tigers added the tying-run on a two-out double. Cherry plated the third and game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh via a double by Lydia Greenly to score Faith Zganjar, who led off the inning with a triple.

Cherry will take on Moose Lake/Willow River on Thursday, June 2 at Braun Park at 3 p.m.

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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