|5/20/2022 1:07:00 PM|
'Cats hit bump in road but still cruise to M8C championship
Chisago Lakes 12, Cambridge-Isanti 6
Anna Zaruba had a run scoring double in each of the first three innings to lead the Wildcats to a 12-6 win over the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejackets Tuesday, May 10 at Chisago Lakes High School. The Wildcats scored four runs in each of those first three innings and pounded out 13 hits in the game. In four plate appearances, Ashley Mandell got two hits, walked twice, drove in two runs, and scored three. The six runs allowed by the Wildcats were just one fewer than the seven runs they had allowed in the season’s first 12 games.
In the first inning, Brooklyn Nelson and Sam Johnson had run-scoring singles. In the second, Leah Zaruba drove in a run with a groundout to second, and Anna Zaruba and Melanie Anderson had back-to-back RBI doubles. In the third, Mandell and Anna Zaruba had back-to-back doubles, with Mandell driving in two and Anna Zaruba pushing one across the plate. In the second, Allison Gregory stole home on the back end of a double steal, and Sam Johnson did the same thing in the third inning.
Mandell started and pitched all seven for the Wildcats. She gave up six runs (five earned) on nine hits, walked four and struck out 12.
St. Francis 8, Chisago Lakes 3
The St. Francis Fighting Saints scored four times in the third inning to take a 5-1 lead and went on to beat the Wildcats 8-3 Thursday, May 12 at St. Francis High School. The eight runs allowed by the Wildcats were more than they had allowed in the season’s first 12 games. Anna Zaruba started and went just two plus innings, recording her first loss of the season. She allowed five runs (only two earned) on seven hits and struck out one. In four innings of relief, Ashley Mandell allowed three earned runs on six hits and struck out six.
During the pivotal bottom of the fourth inning, the first three St. Francis batters singled. After an error and another single pushed across two runs, Mandell came in to relieve Zaruba. After a lineout to Mandell and a grounder to Mandell that forced a runner at home, it looked like the Wildcats were on their way to limiting the damage. But the next batter singled to drive in two and make the score 5-1. With the game still in reach, the Wildcats had two runners thrown out at home in the fifth inning. The Fighting Saints had built their lead to 7-2 before Mandell blasted a solo home run to lead off the top of the sixth. Brooklyn Nelson had three of the Wildcats’ nine hits, including two doubles, and drove in one run.
Chisago Lakes 9, Cloquet 2
The Wildcats won both ends of a doubleheader Friday, May 13 at Princeton’s Mark Park. Against the Cloquet Lumberjacks, Anna Zaruba hit her first career home run. She went four-for-four on the day, drove in five runs, and allowed just two runs in a complete game performance to lead the Wildcats to a 9-2 win over the Lumberjacks.
Anna Zaruba doubled and scored in the second, had a two-run single in the third, singled to drive in a run in the fourth and capped it all off with a two-run blast to left in the sixth. Leah Zaruba had run scoring singles in the second and third innings. Sam Johnson drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to left in the second, and Great Gillach singled to drive in the Wildcats’ other run in the fourth.
Anna Zaruba allowed two earned runs on a season-high ten hits. She walked just one and struck out ten. Wildcat head coach Brenda Carlson said “Anna is batting in the four-spot for us and hitting the ball well. She had hit a few balls of the fence and hit one off the top of the fence at Mankato, so we knew a home run was coming at some point.”
Chisago Lakes 4, Princeton 0
In the other game of the doubleheader at Mark Park, the bottom of the order came through for the Wildcats. Brooklyn Nelson and Allison Gregory each drove in two runs as the Wildcats shut out the toothless Princeton Tigers 4-0. Ashley Mandell was dominant, allowing no runs on three hits. She walked just one and struck out 13.
With the game still scoreless in the top of the fourth, Anna Zaruba doubled, and Melanie Anderson and Sam Johnson both singled to load the bases with no outs. Nelson drove in two with a double and another run scored on Gregory’s groundout to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead. The Wildcats added an insurance run in the sixth. Sam Johnson led off with a single, went to second on Nelson’ s sacrifice bunt and scored on a single by Gregory. Mandell allowed just one baserunner in the final two innings to seal the win.
In assessing her team’s four-game stretch, Wildcat head coach Brenda Carlson said, “In the St. Francis loss, errors led to some runs leading to the pitchers trying to overpitch. And we hit the ball well that game, but we were hitting it right at them. The kids took the loss pretty hard. But it is what it is. You make errors, and it snowballs. You need to forget about it and fight the next day. We knew a game like this was going to come along at some point. We were just hoping it wouldn’t be in sections. And after that game, the team came back to be the solid team they are. It shows me the kids have the fight in them that they will need for postseason success.”
Friday’s win over Princeton, combined with Big Lake’s win over North Branch, gave the Wildcats their second Mississippi 8 Conference championship in a row.
The Wildcats (15-3) will finish out the regular season up north tomorrow night, where they will play games against Hermantown and Grand Rapids at Rose Road Field, with the first game getting underway at 3 p.m.
Section 7AA playoffs start next Wednesday, May 26. The Wildcats, who are the presumptive top seed in the seven-team section, will likely have a bye. They will play their first playoff game Saturday, May 28. We will have a section playoff preview in next week’s Press.