June 6, 2022 at 3:39 p.m.

'Cats claw their way to first state tourney berth

'Cats claw their way to first state tourney berth
'Cats claw their way to first state tourney berth

Chisago Lakes 4, Hermantown 3
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.

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