By Matthew Davis
Other than a 4-2 battle with Mahtomedi, Totino-Grace has mostly cruised through the Class 3A Section 4 softball tournament.
Totino-Grace (20-2), the No. 1 seed, opened with a 15-0 rout of St. Paul Harding May 23 as Erin Poepping pitched a shutout. The Eagles eventually landed in the section championship game with a 7-0 Poepping shutout of St. Anthony Village May 26.
Round two of the tournament May 24 didn’t come as easily when No. 4 seed Mahtomedi grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third inning. The Eagles responded quickly with a run in the bottom of the third and fourth to tie 2-2.
Totino-Grace pulled ahead in the fifth with two runs to secure the 4-2 victory. Madison Brunn drove in two runs, and Poepping added another run. Poepping also kept the Zephyrs’ bats in check with four strikeouts in seven innings.
The championship game was Thursday, after press deadlines.
Fridley goes 1-2 in softball sections
Fridley’s Class 3A Section 4 tournament journey looked like a roller coaster.
Maureen Zeleny threw a seven-strikeout complete game against St. Paul Como Park in the May 23 opener, but the No. 6 seed Tigers (11-12) couldn’t get key hits in a 2-1 loss. The No. 3 seed Cougars had a 2-0 lead through five innings before Ava Helmer cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth with an RBI. The Tigers didn’t have an answer for Cougars pitcher Kathryn Proper, who fanned16 batters.
Zeleny and company bounced back the next day to down rival Columbia Heights 3-0 May 24 in the elimination bracket. The Tigers senior struck out four batters and allowed three hits. She also had two RBI, and Sam Broadhead added an RBI.
Columbia Heights senior pitcher Cassidy Mason fanned six batters and allowed three hits in her final high school game.
Fridley tried to extend its season May 26 in the next round, and the Tigers jumped out a 2-0 lead in the first inning against No. 4 seed Mahtomedi but never scored again. The Zephyrs rolled 13-2 to end the Tigers’ season.
Zeleny took the loss in six innings and had one strikeout despite throwing 20 first-pitch strikes. Broadhead had the only multi-hit game of the day for the Tigers.
Bright outlook on the mound for Hylanders
Seventh-grader Molly Gross made her case for more starts as a pitcher with Columbia Heights next spring.
Gross made three straight starts at the end of the regular season and shined. She won her first game with a 10-strikeout performance against Minneapolis Edison. She tossed six strikeouts in her second start against Blake and then fanned five against Minneapolis Southwest May 22.
In the win against Minneapolis Southwest, Gross allowed four hits and held off the Lakers in the seventh when they had the bases loaded and a 5-2 lead. She gave her team enough life, and they responded with four runs including, Gross’ walk-off RBI single.
“She has been an awesome addition to the program,” Hylanders coach Terry Olson said.
Columbia Heights’ season ended in two games at the Class 2A Section 4 tournament May 23-24 with an 11-1 loss to St. Anthony Village and a 3-0 loss to Fridley.
Irondale notches win in Section 5
Irondale collected its third win of the season May 23 with a 3-2 victory against Mounds View in the Class 4A Section 5 tournament. The Knights (3-18) had gone a month without a victory but staved off elimination for a day.
Spring Lake Park ended the Knights’ season 7-0 May 25.