Putting together a great weekend of ball in the stifling heat, the Cambridge-Isanti 18-U fastpitch team won the NAFA Tier II State championship at the tourney hosted in St. Cloud July 16-17.
The Bluejackets boasted a strong core of players which won the Mississippi 8 Conference title this past spring, and they earned a berth at State by playing well in a qualifier the prior weekend. In the opening pool play at State, the C-I girls defeated Soderville-Blaine 6-5 before dropping a 10-9 decision to the Northwest Chaos out of the St. Michael-Rogers area.
That placed C-I into the Tier II division of the State brackets where the team began Sunday with a 9-5 win in a rematch with Soderville-Blaine. The Bluejackets then scored four runs in the sixth to defeat Mora 5-1 before defeating M-8 rival Buffalo 6-4 in the semifinals.
In the championship, C-I faced another Mississippi 8 team in Big Lake. Singles by Leah Ponting, Bailey Bakken, Taylor Bowker and a Kendall Sandberg sac fly led to a 4-1 lead in the first inning. Ponting doubled and Amanda Hanson singled her home for a 5-1 edge in the second, but the Hornets rallied to tie the game with four runs in the sixth.
Going to international rules (runner starts at second base, no outs), Big Lake scored in the eighth, but C-I knotted the game again with a clutch two-out single by Jessica Golden. A scoreless ninth was followed by the Hornets loading the bases with no outs in the 10th, but third-bagger Sandberg snared a line drive and tagged the runner for a huge double-play to help keep Big Lake scoreless. The title was won in the bottom of the 10th when A. Hanson began at second and Bakken delivered a double to the left-center gap to score her.
Golden pitched the first seven innings against Big Lake, with Bakken throwing the last three for Cambridge-Isanti.
“We had a lot of hits in the tourney, the girls played with a lot of guts in that heat, and we got some good memories out of the weekend,” said Coach Dave Hanson. “Jessica gave us 18 innings total pitched on Sunday, and Bailey threw 10 innings that day.”
The Cambridge-Isanti 14-U fastpitch team finished in 2nd place at the MMFL Girls State Tournament on July 16-17. The Bluejackets went 5-2 in the tournament, losing to Winona twice including 7-0 in the champsionship. Congratulations on a great summer which saw the team go 16-2 during the regular season. Pictured are (Row 1, l-r): Brandi Malikowski, Elle Larkin, Anesia King, (Row 2) Jessica Schulz, Taylor Glotzbach, Kate Hanson, Madison Nelson, (Row 3) Coach Scott Nelson, Emily Logan, Sydney Manke, Lauryn Swanson, Lydia Westberg, Kylie Guimont and Coach Brian Guimont. Not pictured: Morgan Urness.