June 6, 2022 at 3:39 p.m.
The Wildcat girls’ softball team is headed to the state tournament for the first time in Chisago Lakes High School history. They beat the Hermantown Hawks 4-3 in the Section 7AAA championship game Thursday, June 2 to punch their ticket to state. Junior Ashley Mandell pitched a complete game to pick up the win. The game was played at Forest Lake High School.
Freshman Anna Zaruba led off the second with a line drive homerun to straightaway left field. The Wildcats added three more runs that inning to take a 4-0 lead. Mandell and the Wildcat defense held the Hawks scoreless until the fifth inning, when the Hawks scored three times to cut the Wildcat lead to 4-3. In the bottom of the seventh, the Hermantown leadoff batter ripped a line drive that was headed toward the left field corner. Left fielder Courtney Preston raced over, dove full out and caught the ball in the webbing of her glove a couple of feet inside the line. If the ball had gotten by Preston, the batter would likely have had a triple. Instead, there was one out. With two outs, Mandell got the batter to hit a weak grounder right back to her. Mandell knocked it down, picked it and flipped t top first to nab the runner, and the Wildcats were headed to the state tournament.
The Class AAA state tournament will be played at Caswell Park in North Mankato June 9 and 10. Chisago Lakes drew the fourth seed and will take on fifth-seeded Benilde St. Margaret's on June 9 at 11 a.m.