April 22, 2010 at 9:12 a.m.

After two NSC victories to open the season, CL drops two at home

After two NSC victories to open the season, CL drops two at home
After two NSC victories to open the season, CL drops two at home

The Wildcat softball team (2-2 overall, 2-0 conference) got off to a good start to the new season with a couple of North Suburban Conference wins, then stumbled against two very good teams from up north.

Chisago Lakes 3, Robbinsdale Cooper 1

Rachel Nelson picked up the win and Kasey Eichten got picked up the save as the Wildcats used good pitching, good defense and a lot of hustle to beat Cooper 3-1 in the season opener last Tuesday, April 13 at New Hope Elementary School.

The Wildcats got on the scoreboard first. In the top of the third, the Wildcats loaded the bases with one out as Amanda Houle and Mackenzie Turk sandwiched walks around Eichten's base hit. Nelson's single scored Houle, and the Wildcats led 1-0. In the fourth, number nine hitter Laura Monson reached on an error with two outs. Shannon Monson walked, and both runners moved up on a passed ball. Houle then got her bat on the ball for what looked like an easy infield out. But the Hawks didn't play the ball aggressively. Laura Monson scored easily from third, and Shannon Monson just kept going as she rounded third. The Hawks realized what was happening and tried to throw Shannon Monson out at the plate. But the throw was late, Houle was safe at first and the Wildcats had a 3-0 lead.

A Cooper home run in the bottom of the fourth spoiled the shutout, but that was all the scoring the Hawks could manage the rest of the way. Nelson went five innings, striking out five and allowing just two hits and one earned run. Eichten, in two innings of work, picked up what may have been the Wildcats' first save ever, allowing one walk and two hits.

"Not a bad first game," said Wildcat co-head coach Herb Jangor. "We didn't make any errors, pitched the ball well and got the bat on the ball when we needed to. Laura Monson hustled to reach on an error to start the two-run rally in the fourth and Shannon Monson showed some great base running by scoring all the way from second on a ground ball. We left a few too many runners in scoring position, but we played pretty well overall."

Chisago Lakes 10, Fridley 0 (5 innings)

Kasey Eichten threw a one-hitter as the Wildcats made the most of their home opener, crushing the toothless Fridley Tigers 10-0 last Thursday, April 15 at Chisago Lakes.

Eichten helped out at the plate, too, going two-for-three with a double and one RBI. Amanda Houle went two-for-three with three stolen bases and Danielle Tossey was also two-for-three with a triple and two RBIs. The Wildcats pounded out nine hits overall. Eichten struck out three and didn't walk anyone. "It was fun to see us knock the ball around," said Jangor. "The only disappointing things about today's game were the two errors we made. But we're off to a good start with two conference wins and I feel the kids are on the right track."

Hermantown 6, Chisago Lakes 2

Helped out by three Wildcat errors, Hermantown exploded for four runs in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie and beat the Wildcats 6-2 last Saturday, April 17 at Chisago Lakes.

Hermantown, ranked second in the state, got on the board in the second with two runs against starter Rachel Nelson. Nelson and Laura Monson singled to lead off the bottom of the third. With one out, Amanda Houle walked to load the bases. Kasey Eichten hit a ground ball to short that looked like it might be an inning-ending double play. Houle was forced at second, but an errant throw to first allowed two runs to score as Eichten reached first safely, and the game was tied 2-2. But in the sixth, the wheels came off for the Wildcats as they made three of their five errors and the Hawks scored four runs, two of them earned, against reliever Eichten. The Wildcats made five errors overall in the game.

Virginia 7, Chisago Lakes 1

Only two of Virginia's seven runs were earned as the Wildcat defense again played a sloppy game against a very good team. They committed six errors, losing 7-1 to the Blue Devils last Saturday in the second game of a doubleheader at Chisago Lakes.

The sixth inning was a bad one for the Wildcat defense for the second game in a row. They committed three errors, and none of the three runs scored against reliever Rachel Nelson were earned. In the seventh, two more Wildcat errors led to yet another Bleu Devil run. The Wildcats scored to avoid the shutout in the bottom of the seventh. Claire Habel walked with one out and scored when the left fielder misplayed Danielle Tossey's fly ball.

"What we found out this weekend," said Jangor, "is that we can play with top teams like Hermantown and Virginia skill-wise. But we are still working on developing the mental toughness we need to compete with them. And we learned the importance of good defense. You're not going to make eleven errors and a bunch of mental errors in two games and beat anybody, much less two teams that are this good. Yes, they hit the ball hard. But, for the most part they hit it right at us and we just didn't make the plays. Despite the result, I hope the players understand that we can compete with the good teams. Hopefully, that woke us up and will make us want to buckle down even more. We're still on track for all our of our goals. One of the reasons we play two very good non-conference, non-section teams like this early in the year is to find out our weaknesses early so we know what to work on."

The Wildcats will take on Benilde-St. Margaret's this afternoon at 4:30 at Aquila Park in St. Louis Park. Next Wednesday, April 28, they'll play a doubleheader at Spring Lake Park starting at 4 p.m.


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