May 20, 2010 at 9:37 a.m.
Slow and steady won the race when the Wildcat softball team played the Totino Grace Eagles last Wednesday, May 12 at Totino Grace. The Wildcats scored all four of their runs in one inning with a big two-out rally. The Eagles scored single runs in five different innings, including the game-winner with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to beat the Wildcats 5-4.
The Wildcats trailed 2-0 going into the top of the third inning. Shannon Monson walked with two outs. Amanda Houle singled, and Rachel Nelson doubled to the wall in left to scored Monson. Kasey Eichten singled to drive in both runners. Kayla Checkalski walked and Eichten scored on Mackenzie Turk's single to give the Wildcats a 4-2 lead.
But the Eagles pecked away at the Wildcat lead. They added an unearned run in the fourth inning and tied the game in the fifth on three straight singles. With two outs and nobody on in the seventh, the Eagles once again came up with three straight singles to score the winning run.
Eichten went the distance for the Wildcats, allowing ten hits and striking out three. Just three of the five runs against Eichten were earned. The Wildcats pitched and hit well enough to win this one, but their shaky defense again let them down.
St. Francis 3, Chisago Lakes 0
Unearned runs and silent bats doomed the Wildcats against the St. Francis Fighting Saints in the opening game of a doubleheader last Friday, May 14 at St. Francis. The Wildcats managed just three hits as they were shut out by the Fighting Saints 3-0. Starting pitcher Rachel Nelson pitched well, allowing just four hits and striking out two. But errant plays in the field led to two St. Francis runs.
Nelson tried to help her own cause early by doubling in the first inning with one out, but was stranded at third as the Wildcats wasted an early scoring opportunity. In the second, Danielle Tossey led off with a single and went to second on Tia Pearl's sacrifice bunt. But the Wildcats again couldn't come up with a hit and Tossey was stranded in scoring position.
The Fighting Saints got on the board in the bottom of the third. After a leadoff single and a passed ball, the base runner was sacrificed to third. She scored as the next batter reached on an infield single. The next batter struck out, but St. Francis ended up with runners on second and third after a dropped third strike and an error. A single up the middle scored one run, but center fielder Shannon Monson gunned down the second runner at the plate for the second out. A groundout ended the inning and the Wildcats trailed just 2-0. The Fighting Saints scored an unearned run in the third, on a walk, a passed ball, a single and a groundout. The St. Francis pitcher did the rest, facing just 12 batters over the last four innings. Two of those 12 Wildcat batters did reach base, but both were thrown out attempting to steal.
Chisago Lakes 5, St. Francis 1
Kayla Checkalski had a big two-run single in a three-run first inning and the Wildcats went on to beat St. Francis 5-1 in the second game of the double header. Starting pitcher Kasey Eichten went the distance, allowing just one unearned run on five hits and striking out six to improve her record to 4-6.
Sparkplug Amanda Houle got things going for the Wildcats in the top of the first with a leadoff single. Rachel Nelson walked. Houle scored on Eichten's single. Checkalski's huge hit then gave the Wildcats an early 3-0 lead. The Wildcats scratched out another run in the third. Nelson walked to lead off the inning, went to second on Eichten's groundout, moved to third on Checkalski's single and scored on a passed ball. The Wildcats added their final run in the fifth. Eichten walked with two outs. Checkalski reached on an error and Eichten scored on Danielle Tossey's single. An unearned run in the bottom of the sixth spoiled the shutout, but the Wildcats came away with a well-played and well-earned victory.
Sophomore Kayla Checkalski once again came through for the Wildcats at the plate in this game. She reached base all three times, came up with a big hit and was involved in all five runs that the Wildcats put on the board. She is emerging as one of the Wildcats' best players and has been their most consistent hitter this season.
The Wildcats' (8-9 overall, 7-5 conference) final game of the regular season is tonight at Cambridge-Isanti at 4:30 p.m. The Section 7AAA playoffs start with play-in games next Tuesday, May 25 at the site of the higher seed. Go to mshsl.org starting Sunday night, May 23 to see when and where the Wildcats will open the tournament. If they win or don't play on Tuesday, May 25 they will play on Thursday, May 27, again at the site of the higher seed. Thursday winners will advance to a four-team double-elimination tournament at Princeton June 2 and 3 to determine who goes to the state tournament.
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