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August 2, 2021

6/11/2021 4:21:00 PM
Wildcats, led by Ashley Mandell, charging through sections

CL 13,
Princeton 0 (5 innings)
The eighth-seeded Princeton Tigers that the top-seeded Wildcats met in the Section 7AAA playoff opener at home Wednesday, June 2 hardly resembled the team the Wildcats had played less than a week earlier in the regular season finale.  In the earlier game, the Tigers pitched well and played fine defense for most of the game, and actually led 1-0 until the Wildcats scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to win 4-1. 

In the June 2 game, the Wildcats hit the ball all over the place and scored in all four innings.  Princeton infielders seemed, at times, to be incapable of fielding simple ground balls, and the Wildcats took advantage of the miscues.  Nearly half of the Wildcat runs were unearned as they cruised to a 13-0 victory.  The game was shortened to five innings because of the ten-run rule.  The win sent the Wildcats to a second-round matchup with the Hermantown Hawks.

On the offensive side of the ball, Princeton hitters weren’t any more effective against Wildcat pitching than they had been previously.  In the earlier game, Anna Zaruba and Ashley Mandell combined to allow one earned run on two hits.  They walked one and struck out ten.  In the June 2 game, a dominant Mandell allowed three hits.  She walked two and stuck out nine in her five-inning complete game performance, simply overwhelming many of the Tiger batters.

Meanwhile, the Wildcat batters had 16 hits.  Greta Gillach’s double in the fourth inning was the Wildcats’ only extra base hit.  Gillach and Leah Zaruba had three hits apiece, and Haley Sogard had two hits.  Leah Zaruba and Chloe Zupko drove in three runs each, and Anya Nephew had two RBIs.  The Wildcats jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back.

CL 5, Hermantown 1
Hailey Benjamin and Leah Zaruba each had a two-run single to lead the Wildcats to a 5-1 win over the fourth-seeded Hermantown Hawks in the second round of the Section 7AAA playoffs on Saturday, June 5 at Braun Park in Cloquet.

The game was loaded with walks.  The Wildcats had just three hits but took advantage of 11 walks by Hawk pitchers.  Wildcat pitcher Ashley Mandell walked eight and gave up four hits but was able to pitch her way out of some jams.  With multiple runners on base, she struck out the final batter in the first, second and sixth to shut the door on potential rallies.  Mandell struck out a total of nine Hermantown batters.

Greta Gillach got the Wildcats on the board in the third inning.  She walked, stole second, stole third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher.  In the fourth, Anna Zaruba walked.  Pinch runner Courtney Preston stole second but was thrown out trying to steal third.  Chloe Zupko walked, Sam Johnson pinch ran for her.  Melanie Anderson walked and both runners scored on a single by Benjamin.   In the sixth, Zupko led off with a walk.  Anderson struck out, but Benjamin singled to put runners on first and second.  Gillach grounded to first, and both runners moved up.  Leah Zaruba followed with a single to drive in both runners and give the Wildcats some cushion as Mandell shut down the Hawks in the top of the seventh to seal the win.

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