GRAND RAPIDS — The Hibbing High School softball team watched a shot at making the Section 7AAA finals slip through their fingers.
Chisago Lakes took advantage of a Bluejacket error in the bottom of the fifth inning to score four runs en route to a 5-3 victory in a Section 7AAA loser’s bracket victory Tuesday at the Grand Rapids Sports Complex.
With the win, the Wildcats will now play in the 7AAA finals Thursday against undefeated North Branch. Hibbing ends its season with a record of 16-9, but with the thoughts of what if?
“If slipped away,” Hibbing coach Bryan Terzich said. “It literally slipped through our fingers, but that’s a part of the game. That’s why you play. They put their bat on the ball at the right time.
“That’s how it works. You have to take the good with the bad.”
The good came in the top of the first when Hibbing plated three runs against the No. 1 seeded Wildcats.
Aune Boben singled with one out as did Madison St. George. Jacie Clusiau walked to load the bases, then Reese Aune doubled home all three runners to give the Bluejackets the early lead.
“That was huge,” Terzich said. “In the previous game (a 10-0 win over Hermantown), Reese struggled. She came in here and hit a blistering double to clear the bases, but in the end, we have to keep that up for six more innings.
“We had to put the bat on the ball. I can see an inning here and an inning there. In any sporting contest it’s not just one thing, one play. It’s a myriad of things that you don’t do or do.”
With Boben on toeing the pitching rubber, the Bluejackets’ were in good hands even though Chisago Lakes scored once in the bottom of the first Hailey Sogard doubled home a run.
Other than that, the Wildcats’ bats went silent through the second, third and fourth inning, and that seemed to be the same outcome in the fifth.
With two out and a runner on first, Greta Gillach hit a pop up that was dropped, giving the Wildcats some life.
Chisago Lakes took advantage of it as Leah Zaruba reached on another Bluejacket error, scoring a run to make it 3-2.
Gillach scored on a Hibbing error during the back end of a double steal, then Ashley Mondell singled home a run. Sogard hit an RBI single to give Chisago Lakes a two-run lead.
“If you get out of that inning, who knows what happens?” Terzich said. “Maybe we win 3-1, then we play North Branch Thursday. At the end of the day, these are a great bunch of girls.”
It’s not as if the Bluejackets didn’t have their chances against Wildcats’ starting pitcher Mondell.
Hibbing had two runners on in the fourth and two more in the sixth, but both rallies ended with double plays, which took the wind out of Hibbing’s sail.
One was a 4-6-3 double play, and the other was a 9-3 double play when Terzich hit a laser to Sogard, who threw to first to complete the twin killing.
“Ayva hit the hardest ball of the day,” Terzich said. “Had she hit it higher, it would have cleared the fence. She hit it right at somebody, and by the time our runner saw it, it was over.
“They’re kids. I told them after the game that you learn and you grow. That’s what this does for you. That’s why playing high-school sports is important.”
Boben allowed six hits over six innings. She struck out four and walked two.
Mondell gave up six hits in seven innings of work. She fanned three and walked two.
Hibbing got one hit each from Boben, St. George, Clusiau, Aune, Terzich and Monroe Rewertz.