Prep report: Rapids softball doubles their fun in 7AAA upset

May 23—Four of the eight teams in the Section 7AAA softball tournament were dismissed on Thursday at Braun Park in Cloquet, but fifth-seeded Grand Rapids was not one of them.

The Thunderhawks ousted Duluth Denfeld 5-1 in their early game, but the big stunner was an 8-5 defeat of second seed Chisago Lakes that knocked the Wildcats out.

Rapids advances in the elimination bracket to meet another upset victim, Hibbing. After losing to North Branch at home on Wednesday, the Bluejackets had to battle on Thursday. Seventh-seeded Hermantown scored first and tied the game 4-4 in the fifth inning and 7-7 in the sixth, but Emma McDowell induced a run-scoring error in the bottom of the inning, then Grace McDowell clubbed a solo homer for insurance and her fourth RBI of the game.

Hibbing then ousted Cloquet 4-1 for a second win on the day.

Superior will not make a third consecutive trip to Goodman Diamond for the WIAA state softball tournament, as the Spartans' season ended in the cruelest of fashions, a walk-off 4-3 loss to the host New Richmond Tigers in a Division 1 regional final on Thursday, May 23.

After Melania Luostari's two-out homer in the first inning served as the Spartans' only hit through six frames, Superior got the rally it needed in the seventh inning. Luostari tripled and Paige 'Peeps' Johnson got an infield hit to put runners on. Luostari beat a throw home on an infield grounder to tie the game and Mattie Schilling appeared poised to be the heroine of the day when her RBI single scored Johnson and gave Superior a 3-2 lead over the second seed on its home field.

However, the first two New Richmond batters of the bottom of the seventh reached on a single and a walk and Amelia Brinkman grabbed the spotlight, as her single to the outfield scored both and won the game.

Luostari had two of Superior's four hits in the game, while Ari Robillard took the loss, allowing four earned runs on 12 hits. She walked two and struck out two.

Esko couldn't hold on to a 2-0 lead and lost to Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin in a Section 7AA second-rounder on Thursday morning at Braun Park in Cloquet, but they'll get another shot in an elimination game on Tuesday in Grand Rapids.

The Titans scored four times in the bottom of the fourth inning to take over Thursday's game, as a error off the bat of Lydia Schwartz brought in the tying and go-ahead runs before Schwartz herself scored on a passed ball.

Bailey Plante had two hits for Esko, whole Kaelyn Foxx allowed six hits and only one earned run in the pitcher's circle.

Esko bounced back to eliminate Aitkin 8-3, though not immediately. The Gobblers recorded all their runs and four of their five hits in the first inning to take an early lead, but Esko passed them up for good in the fourth inning as Brooklyn McKibbon doubled to tie the game then came around to score on Keira Leach's RBI groundout. Rilee Durovec later tripled in Foxx and scored on the play.

Leach struck out eight in the win.

On the other side of the bracket, Barnum recovered from a gutting 6-5 walkoff loss to Rush City to survive Hinckley-Finlayson 5-2 in an elimination game.

The Bombers had the second-seeded Tigers on the ropes, up 5-1 going to the bottom of the seventh inning. After a pop-up to the pitcher by the first batter of the inning, the next eight Tigers reached base on a hit batter, four singles, two intentional walks and an error.

Reagen Warnygora was 2-for-4 with a double for Barnum, while Alizondra Collelo allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits while striking out six.

Barnum turned the tables on Hinckley-Finlayson in the elimination game. The Bombers trailed 2-1 in the top of the seventh before a one-out RBI groundout by Danika Olson tied it up. Ava Nyquist singled in the go-ahead run and later scored.

Barnum will meet International Falls in an elimination game on Tuesday in Grand Rapids.

Defending Section 7A champion Moose Lake/Willow River proved hard to get to on Thursday, allowing just a single run over two tournament victories in Grand Rapids.

Elsie Leino blanked North Woods on three hits in an 8-0 victory, the second-seeded Rebels' first of the tournament after having a first-round bye.

MLWR had eight players get hits, though they didn't break the game open until scoring seven fifth-inning runs on an error, a walk and six singles.

MLWR then took down Ely 5-1. Mackenzie Hoffman allowed one run on three hits in four innings before handing off to Leino the rest of the way. Hoffman didn't get the pitching win, but had a key two-run double in a four-run fifth inning as the Rebels broke a 1-1 tie.

The Rebels will meet Cherry on Tuesday in Braun Park for a spot in the May 30 section final. The Tigers shoved the No. 1 seed, Silver Bay, into the elimination bracket with a 5-0 shutout win in another quarterfinal.

Earlier, the Tigers got their shot only after a 4-3 walk-off win over Carlton/Wrenshall, as Lydia Greenly delivered the game-winning hit.

Raptors pitcher Abby Mitchell struck out 13 but the Tigers did record seven hits and three walks against her.

Carlton/Wrenshall got to taste that kind of victory too, surviving 3-2 in an elimination game with Cromwell-Wright.

The Cardinals had the Raptors down 2-0 going to the bottom of the seventh and 2-1 down to their last out, but Kaydence Moench had a clutch RBI single to tie the game, then scored the winning run on a hit from Bridgette Kent.

Third-seeded South Ridge got outslugged 12-9 by Ely to go into the elimination bracket, but the Panthers held off North Woods 8-6 in an elimination game and will get a second shot at Ely on Tuesday morning in another elimination game.

Superior distance runner Tayler McMeekin earned a return to next weekend's Wisconsin state track and field meet in La Crosse with a third-place finish in the 1,600-meter run at her Division 1 sectional on Thursday in Hudson.

McMeekin, a junior, clocked five minutes, 18.43 seconds and was eight seconds clear of the fourth-place finisher and last state qualifier. Teammate Elena Almonte came up fifth.

Sophomore pole vaulter Tyler Willoughby will also represent the Spartans after clearing 13 feet and finishing fourth.

Northwestern will also send two athletes to La Crosse, both girls and both fourth-place finishers. Jenna Hursh ran fourth in the 800 meters on Thursday at the Division 2 sectional meet in Colby, while pole vaulter Lillian Hoeffling cleared 10-3 for a fourth-place finish.

Three Solon Springs/Northwood athletes will have the rare chance to score points at state in consecutive years, as all three won events at Thursday's Division 3 sectional meet in Cameron. SS/N scored 45 points and finished second in team standings.

Dylan Taggart, who took eighth statewide in the 800 in 2023, ran a 1:58.93 in the same event to win Thursday, with Jacob Taggart two seconds behind him in third place.

Isaac Dickenson qualified in both the 1,600, winning in 4:31.10, and the 3,200, taking third.

Cade Lisson ran a personal-best 49.83 for a win in the 400 on Thursday and is going back to state, where he ran eighth last year.

Ella Hron scored twice in the fourth quarter, while Ciri Ciardelli also had a two-goal game in the Hilltoppers' win in Bloomington on Thursday.

Anna Hron made 10 saves in the Marshall net.

The Tigers' baseball season ended in an extra-inning defeat by Osceola on Thursday, May 23 in Iron River in the opening round of the Division 2 regionals.

Northwestern fought from 8-1 down to tie the game and then take a 10-9 lead going to the seventh inning, but the Chieftains tied it up in the seventh, then pulled ahead on a two-out RBI single from Talon Berg.

Nolan Ronchi and Tyler Nelson had two hits apiece for the Tigers.

The Hunters scored eight times in the first inning and got a 3-for-3 day from John Scott at Wade Stadium on Thursday.

Three other Hunters had multi-hit games and Lukas Dillon got the win after not allowing a run or hit in three innings of relief pitching.

The Hawks dropped both ends of a road doubleheader in Bemidji on Thursday.

River Freeman singled for Hermantown's only hit in game one. Ethan McCubbin had a pair of hits in game two, but the shortened contest ended in a walk-off win for the host Lumberjacks.

The Hilltoppers needed a walk-off single from Max Berrisford to fend off the pesky Mustangs on Thursday at Wade Stadium. Mora led 8-5 and 9-7 in the middle innings before Berrisford drove in two runs with a hit in the fifth inning.

In the seventh, Marshall got a leadoff double from Owen Hayden and a bunt single from Carter Boos, eventually loading the bases before Berrisford's clincher.

Dylan Cole was 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs but the Greyhounds fell a run short at Coon Rapids on Thursday.

The Cardinals led 5-0 after five innings before East strung together a rally. Bjorn Lind singled in their first run of the game before Cole hit a three-run homer. Back-to-back walks kept the momentum going but the Cardinals got out of the inning and worked around a leadoff single in the seventh.

Esko suffered a second loss of the season and second loss of the week as Rapids starter Easton Sjostrand scattered five walks and three hits in 6 1/3 shutout innings. Sjostrand struck out six.

Dominic Broberg was 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Rapids and closed out the shutout on the mound.

Owen Baker's two-run double in the sixth inning broke a 1-1 tie for the Rails in an intriguing inter-state matchup on Thursday in Proctor.

Proctor got a complete-game three-hitter from pitcher Wyatt Mineheine, who struck out 11 and allowed just one unearned run.

Alex Slivensky had two of the Green Eagles' three hits in their first loss of the season in 15 contests.