Jackets pound Bengals in playoff opener

Erica Epsen was mobbed after ripping a 2-run homer in C-I’s 12-4 win at Blaine May 22.

Cambridge-Isanti got off to a great start in the Section 7AAA playoffs by hammering host Blaine 12-4 in the May 22 opening round, fueled by big bats and a tight defense.

The No. 9 seed Bluejackets (9-11) will need to stay in attack mode for their May 24 quarterfinal matchup with top-seed Forest Lake (19-1) who is ranked 2nd in Class AAA. The winner of that game enters the double-elimination format May 30 at Forest Lake.

More 7AAA quarterfinals will be No. 4 Duluth East vs. No. 5 Anoka (5-0 over Princeton May 22), No. 2 Duluth Denfeld vs. No. 10 North Branch (5-0 over Grand Rapids) and No. 3 St. Francis vs. No. 11 Chisago Lakes (6-4 over Andover).

At Blaine on the hot & windy Tuesday, the C-I girls got on the board in the first with a two-out rally when Katie McCann walked and Taylor Bowker singled. Amanda Hanson then pulled a 3-run homer to left-center. Blaine countered with two runs off starter Kate Hammero in the bottom of the inning.

Amanda Hanson ignited the Bluejacket offense with a parked 3-run homer in the top of first at Blaine.

The Bluejackets broke it open in the third with six runs. Erica Epsen led off with a single, then consecutive walks were coaxed by McCann, Bowker and Hanson (BI). Off the Bengal reliever, Kendall Sandberg and Hannah Thiry (2BI) knocked home runs to forge a 9-2 edge.

Jess Golden relieved an injured Hammero in the third and held Blaine to one run over her three innings. In the fourth, Bowker stole a run by forcing an error at third base. The Jackets made it 12-3 in the fifth when Josie Potrament doubled and Epsen followed with a 2-run homer pulled down the left-field line.

Taylor Bowker forced a throwing error at third and finished scoring three runs in the playoff victory.

• On May 16, C-I defeated St. Michael-Albertville 9-4 with 5 runs in the ninth on hits by Thiry, McCann, Bowker and Hanson. Ronni Risch got the win with 3 relief innings.

Becker solidified its Mississippi 8 championship by sweeping the Jackets 6-4 and 7-6 May 17.

C-I closed the regular season with a 13-3 home win over Princeton May 18. Bowker and McCann had 2BI singles to fuel the offense, and Hammero pitched six strong innings. In Game 2, C-I led 8-2 in the fourth when the game was called due to lightening.

Mississippi 8  Softball  FINAL: Becker 9-3, 13-6; Big Lake 8-4, 10-6; Rogers 6-6, 11-9; Buffalo 6-6, 8-10; St. Michael-Alb. 5-7, 9-11; Cambridge-Isanti 4-8, 9-11; Monticello 4-8, 9-9.