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Hawks get revenge on Cloquet, win Section 7AA softball title

COHASSET -- Not able to swing at a pitch in her first three at-bats, Hermantown's Katie Thun had extra motivation when Cloquet finally decided to throw to her.

Brooke Dahlin slides
Hermantown's Brooke Dahlin dives into third base for a triple against Cloquet on Thursday in the Section 7AA championship softball game in Cohasset. (Photo by Dave Harwig)

COHASSET -- Not able to swing at a pitch in her first three at-bats, Hermantown's Katie Thun had extra motivation when Cloquet finally decided to throw to her.

"When they walk me and I can't even swing at it, it makes me want to hit it that much more," Thun said after her three-run home run keyed a seven-run sixth inning in the Hawks' 8-1 victory Thursday at Portage Park. "I was swinging for a base hit, but it went even farther."

The win returned the Section 7AA high school softball championship to Hermantown (20-3), which will play either Staples-Motley or Pequot Lakes in a Class AA state tournament quarterfinal at 11 a.m. Thursday at Caswell Park in North Mankato, Minn. It marks the school's 19th section title.

Thun also scattered eight hits, struck out eight and walked none to earn her 17th victory of the season.

But her bat was silent for most of the game as Cloquet (12-6) intentionally walked her in the first, third and fifth innings. The strategy paid off as the Lumberjacks scored the first run in the top of the fourth on back-to-back-to-back singles by Kristi Anderson, Sammy Zeadow and Jade Benko.

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Benko, a sophomore catcher, twice tagged out players at the plate to keep the Lumberjacks in the contest. Her third-inning-ending tag of Mackenzie Herzig brought Hawks coach Tom Bang out of the third-base box shouting at home-plate umpire Babe Glumack that Benko had blocked the plate without having the ball.

"That's the worst call I've ever seen," Bang yelled after running to the batter's box and pointing at the plate in front of 43-year veteran Glumack. "You're not the show, the kids are the show."

The scene was repeated the next inning when Ashley Irwin's double scored courtesy runner Tess Johnson and brought a sliding Haley Wargin into home as the ball arrived in Benko's mitt. Glumack again called the runner out.

Bang softened his stance after the game.

"Their kid (Benko) did a good job of catching the ball and hanging on to it," he said. "I might have been hoping (for a favorable call)."

As the game remained tied at 1-1, Hermantown players acknowledged they thought about last season's one-run loss to Cloquet on a crazy play in the seventh inning on the same field.

"We tried really hard not to," junior second baseman Macy Francisco said, "and as soon as we got our minds off it and started playing our game, I think we pulled out of it."

Sophomore catcher Brooke Dahlin, who missed last season due to injury, started the decisive inning by tripling into the right-field corner. She wasn't supposed to run to third, however, as Bang gave her the stop sign at second.

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"I guess I was held up on second, but I just went for it," she said.

Dahlin was 3-for-3 to raise her batting average over .400.

"She's been really hot throughout this stretch," Bang said. "Each spot in our lineup delivered at some point in time today."

Wargin followed with a sacrifice fly, while Irwin doubled and scored on Jordyn Thomas' sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. That brought Thun up with two runners aboard.

"We didn't want to put any more runners in scoring position," Cloquet coach Ron Tondryk said. "The pitch was supposed to be out of the strike zone, but she went and got it and gave it a ride. That's why we walked her three times -- she's too good of a hitter."

Francisco said the intentional walks strategy may have backfired.

"I think they fired her up," she said.

The Hawks added two more runs in a six-hit stanza to put the game away.

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"We played them tough for (5½), we just let that one inning get away," Tondryk said. "We got beat by a good team."

Section 7AA Championship

Hermantown 8, Cloquet 1

At Cohasset. WP: Katie Thun 7IP, 8H, 1ER, 8K, 0BB. LP: Chandler Beaupre 6IP, 11H, 8ER, 6BB. H: Thun 3R-HR in seven-run 6th, 3BB; Brooke Dahlin 3x3 (3B), RBI; Mackenzie Herzig 2x2, HBP; Jillayne Gilbert 2B; Tess Johnson 2R; Ashley Irwin 2x4 (2 2B), RBI. C: Sammy Zeadow 3x3 (2B); Jade Benko 2x3, RBI.

Related Topics: CLOQUETHERMANTOWNSOFTBALL
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