C-FC softball and baseball are eliminated from the playoffs
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Daily News staff
The Cochrane-Fountain City softball team faced a familiar opponent in Thursday’s WIAA Division 4 Regional Finals, and much to the chagrin of Pirates fans, history repeated itself.
Sixth-seeded C-FC ended their season with a 11-3 loss to seventh-seeded Osseo-Fairchild after the two teams upset their opponents in the first round for the second straight season.
Last spring, seventh-seeded Thunder defeated sixth-seeded C-FC 19-9, and the Pirates have now been eliminated in the regional title game for the past three seasons.
The Pirates (16-8) have been red hot in the final weeks of the season, winning nine of their last ten games through Thursday, but Osseo-Fairchild have been strong from the start.
The Thunder (13-8) hit four runs in the first inning, including a home run by senior Rae Prudlick with three runs into left field, and never fell behind the rest of the way.
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C-FC junior pitcher Bella Holzer coped in the next three innings, keeping OF scoreless and hitting five strikeouts.
However, the previously hot Pirates thugs remained cold as they struggled to adjust to senior Katie Skoug’s style.
“Today we were often dissatisfied. I kept thinking, “We’re going to break this, we’re going to break this.” It just didn’t happen,” said C-FC head coach Steve Lyga.
The Thunder hit two runs early in the fifth to make it 6-0, then the Pirates came into play late in the fifth when senior Kourtney Foley used freshman Mackenzie Wenger with a single to make it 6-1.
From there, Osseo-Fairchild continued to pound, adding three in the sixth and two in the seventh to extend the lead to 11-1.
C-FC finished the season strong with two runs, but it wasn’t enough for a miraculous comeback. Newcomer Caitlyn Bissen scored from senior Cadence Wenger’s choice of an outfield player, and Wenger headed home through a brace from Foley.
While Foley and Cadence Wenger were two key seniors, the Pirates had a young team overall, with two freshmen on this year’s starting lineup and pitching ace Holzer coming back next season.
“It’s a great year, with 16-8 and a lot of freshmen and sophomores,” Lyga said. “If they go out and play softball and develop as student athletes, it will help them in their future.”
(1) Winona 17, (5) Stewartville 3
The top-seeded Winhawks (18-2) earned a win in their first playoff game after a first-round bye and defeated the fifth-seeded Tigers (9-8) by 14 runs in five innings in a Section 1AAA Austin tournament matchup.
Winona scored early and often, with four runs in the first inning and three more in the second. After a scoreless third, the Winhawks put the game out of reach with a 10-run rally in the fourth.
Stewartville clinched three runs early in the fifth to end the losing streak, but all three were undeserved as senior Ava Hamsund conceded seven hits without walks and seven strikeouts in the win.
Winona’s top three hitters each had three batting days to lead the offense, with Hamsund going 3-on-4 with two RBI and one run made, senior Makayla Steffes making four with a walk, a double, two RBI and 3-on-3 Runs and senior Macy McNally in 3-on-4 with a double, two triples, two runs scored and five RBI.
The win moves the Winhawks into the Section 1AAA semifinals where they meet second seed Byron (15-4) in a state-ranked duel in Austin on Wednesday.
Winona ranks second in the state in this week’s Minnesota Fastpitch Coaches’ Association top-10 rankings, while Byron rounds out the list at No. 10.
The two teams met early in the regular season, with Winona earning a 4-0 win at home on April 10.
(1) St Charles 6, (2) Cotter 2
(4) La Crescent-Hokah 2, (2) Cotter 1
The Ramblers (16-5) lost two games in the Section 1AA tournament, ending their season.
On Tuesday, Cotter head coach Pat Bowlin equaled Minnesota State’s coaching record with 802 wins, and Thursday’s two losses put him level with retired New Ulm Cathedral coach Bob Mertz through next season.
Cotter got off to a hot start in the Subsection title game against the Saints (21-2), scoring two runs early in the first inning on a two-run single by eighth-grader Ella Deets.
St. Charles, ranked as the top AA team by the MFCA, scored three runs by the end of the first half and led the rest of the way.
In the consolation round, the Ramblers lost a duel with a lower-seeded La Crescent-Hokah team (17-6) who had come close twice in the regular season.
LC-H scored two runs early in the third and Cotter was only able to score once late in the fifth, with newcomer Savy Repinski fielding fellow newcomer Camrie Macal.
Lancers pitchers Addie Murilla and Kaitlyn Miller conceded just two hits and three walks combined, with Bowlin commending the LC-H defense’s strong play in preventing multiple hits with runners on base.
(6) GET 8, (11) Northland Pines 4
The sixth-seeded RedHawks (13-10) scored six runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take control of their home field and beat the 11th-seeded Northland Pines to advance in the WIAA Division 2 regional.
GET will visit third-placed West Salem in Tuesday’s regional semifinals.
Collin Handke pitched six innings for GET, hitting eight batters and conceding just three hits. Jack Beedle went 2-on-3 with a double and two RBIs and Calvin Davis went 2-on-4 with two RBIs.
(9) Wisconsin Rapids Assumption 8, (8) C-FC 5
The Pirates (8-12) carried their 8-9 player duel over extra innings but lost to an offensive explosion from the Royals (7-11) and ended C-FC’s season in the first round of the Division 4 Regional Tournament.
Each team had three runs in their first seven innings at Fountain City, but Assumption opened the game with a five-run rally early in the eighth inning. C-FC’s bats came to life in the bottom of the picture and scored twice but wasn’t enough to level the deficit.
Big 9 Conference Championship
Winona competed in Thursday’s Big 9 Conference title meet at the North Links Golf Course in Mankato, finishing eighth in the 12-team field.
As a team, the Winhawks tossed 389 and beat Rochester Century with 393 but trailed Red Wing with 372. Owatonna won the meet with 330 and beat Northfield’s runners-up with 339.
Winona was led by junior Marin Keller, who scored a 90 in a three-way tie and secured 16th place to earn a spot on the all-conference team for the third straight year.
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