7A softball: Rebels are the team to beat
May 27, 2022
The Moose Lake/Willow River girls softball team entered the Section 7A playoffs on Tuesday as one of the top-ranked teams in the state.
Playing at home against No. 16 seed Cook County, the No. 1 seeded Rebels rode strong pitching, tight defense and good hitting to pull away to a 10-0 victory in six innings in Willow River.
“Winning the first playoff game is Step 1 in the postseason,” said Rebels coach Kelly Goeb. “We talked about this being a whole new season now. We are starting over, and what we have done in the last 20 games means nothing.”
The Rebels jump-started the game in the first inning when they reeled off four runs. Hallie Klavu led the game off with a single, then stole both second and third. Sarah Cristy followed with a single to score Klavu. After Sandra Ribich lined out, Natalie Mikrot walked. Jana Bode picked up a sacrifice bunt, putting runners at second and third with two outs. Finally, Maci Kuku laced a hit that got past the outfield for a three-run inside-the-park homerun.
ML/WR added another run in the third when Mikrot tripled to lead off the inning and came in to score on a ground out by Kuku. Klavu led off the fourth with a triple and scored on a grounder to second by Cristy.
In the fifth, the Rebels tacked on three more runs with Mikrot, Bode and Kuku all scoring. ML/WR ended the game on the 10-run limit in the sixth inning when Ribich ripped a triple to lead off the inning and then scored when Mikrot singled.
“Being the No. 1 seed is something new for us,” Goeb said. “We are excited to be in that spot. The girls have worked hard this season to be successful, but we also put in the time to get better.”
Mikrot finished 3 for 3 with three RBIs and three runs scored, Klavu went 2 for 4 and Kuku had a homerun and five RBIs. Sarah Cristy had a hit with two RBIs as well.
The Rebels starting pitcher Alexis Hoffman finished with 11 strikeouts and two hits in four innings of work, while Cristy pitched the last two innings, striking out five and not giving up a hit.
With the win, the Rebels will play South Ridge at 11 a.m. Thursday in Grand Rapids. The winner of that game will play again at 1 p.m. Thursday.
The win improved the Rebels record to 18-3 on the season.
After losing to Chisholm 6-3 on the road last Friday, the Panthers went right back to Chisholm for the opening round of the Section 7A softball playoffs Tuesday. This time the Panthers got the upper hand and fought their way to an impressive 6-1 win over the Bluestreaks.
“I think finally getting a full practice outside on Monday night really helped us,” said first-year South Ridge coach Merle Kelley. “It was only our third outside practice all season and it really paid off for us.”
Rylee Young led off the game with a single in the first inning and scored, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead after one inning.
“We play so much better when we have the lead,” Kelley said. “Then we came out and had a great pitching performance by Svea Snickers, who just threw a great game for us.”
The Panthers defense was also outstanding.
“It was our first game this season with no errors,” Kelley said. “Our shortstop, Lilly Josephson, was fantastic. When you get good pitching and good defense, that’s a tough combination to beat.”
The Panthers tacked on single runs in the second, third and fourth innings to build a lead of 4-1, then added two more runs in the sixth inning. Morgan Dertinger, Layla Reitmeier and Snickers added the runs in the early innings and the two sixth-inning runs were scored by Young and Reitmeier.
The Panthers play ML/WR at 11 a.m. Thursday in Grand Rapid. The winner of that game will play again at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Leading 4-2 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, the Cromwell-Wright softball team was on the cusp of a first-round playoff win on the road in Ely. But a couple of walks and timely hits were enough to allow the Timberwolves to pull off a come-from-behind 5-4 victory and eliminate the Cardinals from the tournament.
“Things just didn’t go our way in the seventh inning,” said Cards coach Kari Olesiak. “They came up with the top of their order and it just kind of broke their way for them to get the win.”
Cromwell-Wright shocked the hometown Timberwolves by scoring three runs in the first inning as Vaida Blomquist, Rylie Dobosenski and Ellie Anderson all scored, making it 3-0 after the top of the first inning. Anderson had the big hit — a double — which drove in two runs before scoring herself. In the bottom of the first, the Timberwolves scored a single run to make it 3-1.
“It was a great way to start the game,” said Olesiak. “The girls were ready, and they came out and put together a solid first inning.”
In the third inning, Jill Anderson scored for the Cards after leading off the inning with a single. However, Ely also added a run in the bottom of the third, making it 4-2.
Blomquist had a solid game in the pitching circle for the Cards and held the Ely offense down, keeping the Cardinals in the lead until the bottom of the seventh.
“Vaida has been just a great surprise for us this season,” said Olesiak. “She has stepped up and has been very poised.”
The loss dropped the Cardinals record to 5-8 for the season.
“It was a tough season, and with the weather we didn’t get to play some of the games we thought we could compete and win,” Olesiak said. “We are thrilled with the fact that we had 24 girls out and we were able to have a junior high team, which will help us continue to build the program.”
At the beginning of the softball season, Carlton/Wrenshall head coaches Brent Pokornowski and Anna George had to find a way to bring two schools together on the softball field and mold them into a team. So far — and with an opening-round 10-0 playoff win over Nashwauk-Keewatin Tuesday — the Raptors are exceeding their expectations.
“This has been an extra-sweet season because we are doing so well and proving that this is the right move and the right step for these two schools to come together for softball,” George said. “Things are moving in the right direction and we are building for some longevity in the program.”
In Tuesday’s five-inning 10-run rule win over Floodwood, Abby Mitchell threw a no-hitter in and she also went 3 for 3 at the plate.
“On the mound she was impressive,” Pokornowski said. “In five innings she struck out 10 and walked just two while not giving up a hit.”
The Raptors entered the game as the No. 5 seed and wasted little time in gaining a lead on the No. 12 Spartans. Madison Asleson, Janea Sjodin and MaeLyn Pokornowski all scored in the first, making it 3-0 after one inning. In the third inning, Eliza DeCaigney, Sjodin, Mitchell, Pokornowski and Amber Lawry all scored as the Raptors went up 8-0. In the bottom of the fourth, DeCaigney and Mitchell both scored making it 10-0.
Mitchell led the way with three hits while Sjodin, DeCaigney, and Pokornowski all belted out two each.
The Raptors will face Barnum at 11 a.m. Thursday in Grand Rapids. The winner of that game will play again at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Barnum set up a second-round showdown with Carlton/Wrenshall in the Class A Girls softball tournament after dispatching Floodwood 25-4 Tuesday night at home.
The No. 4 seeded Bombers had already beaten the Polar Bears earlier this month by 22 runs, so it was no surprise that they won decisively.
“It gave us a chance to play some kids and pitch all three of our pitchers,” said head coach Dustin Collelo. “We have high expectations to go far in the playoffs, so it is nice to get the first game out of the way and get ready for Thursday, which should be tough.”
Against Floodwood, Collelo was able to pitch Mendota Castonguay, KayeLea Poirier and Ali Collelo in the game, which was called by the 15-run rule after four innings.
Offensively, the Bombers bats have come alive in the second half of the season. Kate Buell, Lacey O’Leary and Ali Collelo all had two hits in the game. The Barnum scorebook resembled a bingo card after a game of blackout because so many runs were scored.
Barnum scored 14 runs in the first inning, then added eight more in the second, three in the third and three more in the fourth inning.
“We know Thursday things are going to be much tougher,” said Collelo. “We know we are going to have to play well.”
The Bombers play the Raptors at 11 a.m. Thursday in Grand Rapids. The winner of that game will play again at 1 p.m. Thursday.