Cloquet pulls off another huge tournament
June 30, 2023
The third annual Cloquet Wood City Classic girls softball tournament was on a rainy weekend last week at Braun Park in Cloquet. There were 34 teams participating in three age divisions and, as usual, the tournament was another impressive display of teamwork by all.
"Our grounds crew, parents, umpires and staff all did an amazing job," said tournament director Adam Maslowski. "We had to battle rain and the elements, but we got all the games in, and there were no complaints and, most importantly, everyone had a lot of fun."
It didn't look like things would get off to a good start on Friday when Mother Nature decided to dump some late afternoon rain on the fields. But a Herculean effort by the grounds crew staff allowed for all 10 afternoon and evening games to be played.
"The grounds crew worked their butts off the entire tournament," Maslowski said. "I was at the field by 5 on Saturday morning and we had a massive amount of rain come through before 6:30. ... The crew was able to get everything cleared off and cleaned up by 8 a.m. so the games could be played."
Players from Cloquet, Superior, Duluth, Hermantown, Esko, Moose Lake, Willow River, Carlton, Wrenshall, Silver Bay, International Falls, Barnum, Proctor, Rock Ridge and Hibbing participated in 88 games in three days.
"It was a lot of games in a short amount of time," Maslowski said. "But we had great comments and no parent problems, no umpire issues; everything went off without a hitch."'
Carlton Meat & Grocery served up food in the concession stand and also stepped up to the plate by donating $500 toward a bat raffle.
"We have a parade of teams, which is kind of a way to honor the Ashley Abrahamson tournament," Maslowski said. "Each kid in the tournament gets a raffle ticket for the bat raffle, and in all we give $1,300 dollars in bats away."
The Ashley Abrahamson Memorial softball tournament ran for 20 years through 2019. After the Covid summer, it was retooled and renamed.
After pool play, bracket play commenced and that's when things began to heat up.
"Bracket play was incredible with a lot of close games," Maslowski said.
The U-10 Gold Division champion was Superior with an impressive 15-0 win over Hermantown. Duluth took third with a close 6-5 win over Cloquet Federated Insurance.
Cloquet Asphalt of Duluth won the U-12 Silver title by knocking off Cloquet Community Printing 12-10. Third place was captured by the Proctor Thunder, which beat the International Falls Ice Cats 12-11.
Superior captured the U-12 Gold championship by beating the Proctor Fog 5-3, while Northwestern took third with an impressive 21-7 win over Cloquet Fig Tree.
It was an all Moose Lake and Willow River final in the U-14 Silver Division with ML/WR Straightline Survey beating the ML/WR Rebels 2-1 in a great game. Cloquet Premiere Theatres was third with a 13-12 win over the Duluth Bears.
Silver Bay took the title in the U-14 Gold Division with a tight 3-2 win over Hibbing. Third place was won by International Falls by a 9-0 score over the Superior Blues.
A well-run event
Maslowski was generous with praise. "Jamie Graham is our assistant tournament director and she deserves a lot of credit, along with the CYBSA (Cloquet Youth Baseball/Softball Association) board and the president of the board, Jason Eckenberg."
The tournament has built a solid reputation among softball coaches. The first year of the tournament Maslowski had to spend time on the phones trying to convince coaches to bring teams to Cloquet, but now the coaches are singing the praises of how the tournament is run.
"We received a great email from the coach of the Proctor Fog team," Maslowski said. "Jeremy Johnson said, 'thanks again for a great tournament this weekend and Cloquet is once again the Gold Standard in how a tournament should be run.' That makes all the work by everyone worthwhile."
After the final out of the final game, the rain began again as championship trophies and medals were being awarded.
"Mother Nature didn't make it easy, but we got the job done," Maslowki said. "Now we start planning for next year."