In what could be described as must win games, the Central Lakes College Raiders softball team came through in the clutch by sweeping their doubleheader against Ridgewater Community College with two come-from-behind victories, 4-3 and 3-2.
Contrast to last weekend, the Raiders were able to use timely hitting, solid pitching and a defense that kept the errors to a minimum to keep their region tournament hopes alive.
"These games were very huge," Raiders coach Dennis Eastman said. "If we would've split, that would've knocked us out of regions.
"The pressure was on and we came through. The other day we didn't come up with the big hits, (Tuesday) we did."
CLC 4, Ridgewater 3
The game was scoreless until the fourth inning when Kristi Rausch scored the games first run for the Warriors on a CLC error.
Central Lakes College second baseman Gina Clough of Brainerd watched the flight of her single in Tuesday's 4-3 triumph over Ridgewater Tuesday.
The Raiders came back in the bottom half as Cassey Veith led off with a triple. She later scored on Jennifer Hendrickx's fielders choice, tying up the score at one apiece.
In the sixth, Ridgewater took advantage of another CLC error as the Warriors scored two runs for a 3-1 lead.
Once again, the Raiders answered.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, CLC strung together four consecutive singles with Heather Jacobson, Lisa Gorron and Hendrickx all scoring to give the Raiders a 4-3 lead.
CLC pitcher Stacey Rousselange, who scattered seven hits and struckout five in the game, got the final three outs for the win.
Hendrickx finished with two hits, two RBI and a run, while teammate Lisa Gorron was 1-2 a run and a sacrifice.
CLC 3, Ridgewater 2
Both teams were locked up in a classic pitchers dual as CLC's Fawn Kearney and Ridgewater's Sarah Kavanaugh mowed down opposing batters.
Kearney gave up two hits through the first four innings, while her counterpart gave up one hit in the first and promptly retired the next 14 batters.
Like the first game, the Warriors opened the scoring with two runs on a hit and another costly CLC error in the fifth.
Tara Storts finally got to Kavanaugh launching a double in the left field gap. Cassandra Leopold followed with another double that scored Storts as the Raiders started another comeback.
After consecutive walks to CLC's Jenny Sundlee and Katie Foss in the bottom of the seventh, catcher Toni Elyea ripped a single into left field, scoring Sundlee for the tying run. Foss was left stranded as the game went to extra innings.
Kearney promptly set the Warriors down in order in the eighth, setting the stage for more late-inning heroics.
Leading off, Storts, who was 2-4, sent the first pitch she saw over the center fielder's head all the way to the fence. She sprinted around the bases for an inside-the-park home run and the game winner.
"It was my pitch and it was mine to hit," said a winded Storts.
With the two comeback wins, Eastman feels his team is starting to mature and gain some confidence as the season comes to a close.
"The biggest thing they learned today is that they know they can win when they have to and that's a big confidence booster," Eastman said. "If you know you can win, then that's going to cure a lot of things."
Ridgewater College 000 102 0 -- 3 7 4
Central Lakes College 000 103 x -- 4 8 1
RW -- Tara Vikse and Jennifer Nelson. CLC -- Stacey Rousselange and Melissa Gustafson WP -- Rousselange. LP -- Vikse. 3B -- CLC-Veith. SB -- CLC-1, RW-4. RBI -- CLC-Hendrickx 2, Foss 1; RW-Nelson, Miller. LOB -- CLC-4, RW-7.
Ridgewater College 000 020 00 -- 2 3 1
Central Lakes College 000 001 11 -- 3 5 3
RW -- Kavanaugh and Abbas. CLC -- Fawn Kearney and Toni Elyea. WP -- Kearney. LP -- Kavanaugh. 2B -- CLC-Storts, Leopold; RW-Wiperman. HR -- CLC-Storts. RBI -- CLC-Storts, Leopold, Elyea; RW-Abbas. LOB -- CLC-5; RW-2. Conference -- 5-6. Overall -- 8-10. Next game -- at Itasca Tournament April 26 & 27.
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