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Rebels punch another ticket to state

Team makes third straight appearance

Dwight Cadwell

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The third time may be the charm for the Moose Lake/Willow River girls softball team as the team captured its third straight section 7A title and advanced to the state girls softball tournament in Mankato this week, June 5-7.

The Rebels season was different from the past two seasons.

"We may have flown under the radar some as we played a tough schedule and had more losses than people were accustomed to," head coach Kelly Goeb said. "We had to replace some very important parts to the team after graduation a year ago."

Playing a tough schedule, the Rebels finished the regular season 9-10 overall. They showed their true dominance as they defeated Cherry, 15-5, on May 30 at Braun Park to punch their ticket to the state softball tournament.

The Tigers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Faith Zganjar hit a three-run home run, but the Rebels responded with two runs in the bottom of the first to cut the Cherry lead to 3-2. The Tigers added one run in the top of the second and third innings, but the Rebels offense struck back in the second and third

innings, scoring four runs in each stanza.

The Rebels - who really relied on their offense this season - scored five more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, which ended the section title match via the 10-run rule. The final score was the same as for the previous meeting May 28, when the Rebels defeated Cherry, 15-5, to send the Tigers into the elimination part of the 7A Tournament.

ML/WR pounded out 16 hits in the section championship, led by Sandra Ribich, who had three hits, scored three runs and knocked in three runs. Hallie Klavu also had three hits on the day and also scored three runs in the victory. Lily Kahara, Isabella Emmons, and Elsie Leino all added two hits in the win.

Emmons also knocked in three runs in the victory, while Kahara had two RBIs.

Mackenzie Hoffmann started the game on the mound for the Rebels. After allowing five runs in the first two innings, Goeb changed pitchers to Leino, who shut the door the rest of the way.

"Our pitching at times has struggled this season, but we have two quality starters who pitch at any time in any situation," Goeb said.

When asked about the Rebels' third straight state tournament, Goeb said: "This might be our year. We got third place last year, second the year prior, so maybe this is the year for the title."

It wasn't to be.

The No. 5 ranked Rebels opened play Wednesday, June 5, against tournament first-timer Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, seeded No. 4. ML/WR lost 10-0, and moved to the consolation bracket Thursday morning.

Against RTR, the Rebels got two hits from Klavu, and one each from Madison Wasche, Ribich and Hoffman, but no runs.

The state tournament changed from a two-day tournament to a three-day tournament this year to help decrease the number of game delays.


First round

Moose Lake/Willow River played Russel-Tyler-

Ruthton in the first round of the Class A Minnesota State Softball Tournament in North Mankato Wednesday. The Rebels lost to RTR, 10-0.