Polars, Pioneers advance in section

North High freshman Sophie Cave (16) slides in safely stealing second base in 3rd inning Section 4AAA playoff action. The Polars won 3-1 over Roseville at McKnight Fields May 21. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
North High freshman Sophie Cave (16) slides in safely stealing second base in 3rd inning Section 4AAA playoff action. The Polars won 3-1 over Roseville at McKnight Fields May 21. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Local teams are in the running for Section 4AAA softball bragging rights, with play set for May 27 and 28 at McKnight Fields.

Polars evade Roseville

The North Polars (2) advanced in Section 4AAA play May 21 with a 3-1 victory over the Roseville Raiders (3) and their ace hurler Emma Hylen.

The Polars’ line score read 3-5-1-6 to Roseville’s 1-6-0-6.

In the bottom of the first the Polars' Kallie Stepaniak worked a one-out walk and promptly swiped second. Megan Rubbelke slapped a single up the middle and Sophie Cave followed with a RBI single into right.

In the last of the second, Kayla Koemptgen walked. She moved to second and third on a pair of wild pitches, then came home on a double into left center from Montanna Thole.

In the last of the fourth Koemptgen reached on an infield error, stole second and came home on a 2-out single into right by Abby Glaus.  

The Raiders finally scored in the top of the sixth when Aryka Knoche belted a shot to right centerfield to take second. Toni Bishop, who was 3-for-3, smacked a single into left center and Knoche scored.  

North co-head Cliff Charpentier said, “We were able to take advantage of a couple of their errors. We have some fast runners. We kind of live on our team speed. It was a huge win for us. This group is doing very well. I’m very proud of them and their play.”

Pioneers end Packer season

Despite 45-degree weather and brisk winds, the Hill-Murray Pioneers and South St. Paul Packers squared off for seven full innings in the Section 4 Class AAA softball playoffs Monday, May 18.

Afterwards, Hill-Murray coach Colleen Conway said "We got it done! ... There were a couple of focal points. Getting our opponent's lead [batter] out is something we've been working on in practice.

"We were able to do that, and it's always nice to see that those things are showing in the game."

South St. Paul put the first run up when leadoff hitter Kory Rutkowski sent one over the centerfield fence.

The Pioneers responded with Kennedy Houge leading off with a single in the bottom of the first. An infield error on a ball hit by Anna Newton put runners on second and first.

They moved up on a fly ball, and then Katie Johnson's ground ball drew an overthrow at first, allowing two runs and putting her on second. She scampered to third on a wild pitch and came home when Sami Thompson drew a walk and was out on an attempted steal of second.

With a 3-1 margin on the strength of one hit and two costly South St. Paul errors, the Pioneers sent nine batters to the plate in the third and widened their lead to 6-1.

Johnson led off with a single, and Thompson was safe on an infield error. Designated hitter Alli Clark banged a single to fill the bases. Sammie Rambo slashed a shot to center field for two RBI.

The bases were loaded again when Sophie Peterson and Haley LaValle walked. A third walk gave Houge an easy RBI as Rambo touched home.

The Packers picked up a run in the fourth and scored its final run in the upper fifth.

The Pioneers responded in the bottom of the inning when Rambo smacked a single through the left side. Peterson was safe on a fielder's choice as Rambo moved to second. LaValle plated Rambo with a shot into center field, and the final 7-3 was put up on the board.

As the blanket-clad spectators headed for their cars, the line score read South St. Paul 3-9-4-8 and Hill-Murray 7-6-2-9.

Polars ground Raptors

The Polars made the most of seven East Ridge errors with a 9-2 victory in the Section 4 Class AAA playoffs May 19.

North co-head coach Tom Nemo said, "We knew we would have our hands full with a team of their caliber. Our defense played very well. It was a nice win for us."

East Ridge, the seventh seed in the playoffs, put a run on the board in the first and another in the third to go up 2-1.

The Polars gained a run in the last of the second when Montanna Thole slammed a one-hop double off the left field fence. She went to third on a wild pitch and came home on a single up the middle by Abby Glaus.

In the bottom of the third, a throwing error allowed Sophie Cave to gain second, and Madison DelCastillo went in to run for her.

Abby Arko put down a bunt and was safe on a fielder's choice. Kayla Koemptgen reached on a fielder's choice, and the bases were full of Polars. Thole then worked a walk and gained an RBI to knot the score at 2-2.

In the fourth, with two outs, Megan Rubbelke walked, and Abigail Warzeka came in as a pinch runner. Cave moved her up with a single. Then came Ryan Crotty with a double that sent both Warzeka and Cave across the plate.

In the fifth Koemptgen led off with a single. Thole and Glaus worked walks in front of an RBI single by Lily Langevin. Rubbelke then slashed a double into the left field corner and suddenly the Polars — with the help of a passed ball and three Raptors errors — were up 8-2.  

In the sixth Arko had a leadoff walk, with Jordan Hofmeister as pinch runner. Hofmeister stole second and went to third on a single off by Glaus. The two then worked a double steal and when Hofmeister touched home, the final run in the 9-2 North win was up on the scoreboard.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at wwakefield@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7820.

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