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In softball playoffs, weather is an opponent

First round of sections bring success locally

With rain looming Tuesday, proactive school officials rescheduled Section 7 softball action for Monday afternoon to keep things set for semifinal action on Thursday.

Several local teams had byes in the opening round of action in both sections 7A and 7AA. In Class AA, Moose Lake/Willow River, South Ridge and Proctor had byes as the top teams in their respective sections, while Esko, Carlton/Wrenshall, Cromwell-Wright, and Barnum all opened victoriously on Monday afternoon.

Section playoffs continue Thursday with 7A teams playing in Grand Rapids, while 7AA and 7AAA teams will play at Braun Park: Esko at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Barnum at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Moving forward, sections 7A and 7AA will flip-flop locations on Tuesday, May 28 in the next playoff round. Section 7AAA will continue Tuesday at Chisago Lakes High School in Lindstrom.

Section 7A

Carlton/Wrenshall picked up an opening round win in the 7A playoffs as the Raptors defeated the Chisholm Bluestreaks 10-0. The Raptors will now face Cherry on Thursday in Grand Rapids.

Carlton/Wrenshall ended the game with eight hits and seven of those hits came in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Raptors also were aided by seven bases on balls.

"We were slow to get going on the bats, but we were able to break it open in the 5th," coach Anna George said. "We scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to 10-run them."

"Abby had another strong pitching performance to help hold them off until we could get rolling." George added. Mitchell ended with 14 strikeouts while not allowing a hit in the contest. "We are very excited and looking forward to Thursday!" George stated.

Cromwell/Wright earned its first softball playoff victory in a long time Monday, defeating Mountain Iron-Buhl 5-2 at home.

"This might be the first home playoff victory in school history," said Cardinals head coach Kari Olesiak, adding "we know this is the first win in at least 30 years."

Jillian Anderson hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie, and added one more run that inning to ensure the victory and set up a 7A section matchup with top seed Silver Bay.

Anderson was also the winning pitcher Monday. She allowed only one hit and struck out 10 as the Cardinals improved to 14-6 on the season.

Section 7AA

Esko opened up 7AA play with a 15-1 victory over Two Harbors at home. Esko sent 19 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first inning: every starter batted twice, and Rilee Durovec made three plate appearances.

"The girls came out swinging today," said Esko head coach Jeff Emanuel. "Every starter batted twice in the first and it was so nice to get the subs playoff action."

Kaelyn Foxx and Keira Leach struck out 10 of the 15 batters they faced and only allowed one unearned run and two hits. Esko advanced into the double elimination portion of the 7AA tournament and were set to face Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin Thursday in Cloquet.

Barnum also won in 7AA action Monday, beating Mora 10-5 at home. The Bombers will take on Rush City Thursday.

Barnum, like Esko, jumped out to a quick start, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the first inning. They never looked back.

"It was nice to jump out to an early lead and have them chase us," said head coach Dustin Collelo. "We were able to draw some walks, and get timely hits, along with solid defense behind our pitching today."

Section 7AAA

No. 4 seed Cloquet plated all seven of their runs in a big bottom of the fourth inning, rallying from a 4-0 deficit to defeat No. 5 seed Grand Rapids 7-4 in a Section 7AAA softball game Wednesday at a blustery Braun Park in Cloquet.

Brooke Proulx's double to deep centerfield kickstarted a hit parade as the Lumberjacks came from behind to win the opening round game.

Proulx's twin sister, Blythe, also doubled, as did Rylie Goranson and Allie Jones. Goranson was 2-for-3 and Jones 2-for-4, while Morgan Olesiak, Ella Maslowski and Aydann Pollard all produced singles.

Jones was the game's winning pitcher, throwing a complete game, scattering nine hits, while striking out five and walking two for fourth-seeded Cloquet.

The Thunderhawks had a balanced offense, equaling Cloquet's nine hits. Addison Linder took the loss in the circle, allowing seven runs on six walks, one hit batter and four strikeouts.

Cloquet was set to play top-seeded Rock Ridge Thursday morning at Braun Park, after the Pine Knot News went to press.

Cloquet finished 12-8 in the regular season after a 1-0 loss to Bemidji last Friday, May 17.

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