Snow lined the fences of the Findorf Athletic Complex during Monday's cold and windy North Division softball doubleheader.
The Central Lakes College Raiders remained aggressive despite the conditions and swept the Mesabi Range Norse 6-3, 10-2 to stay unbeaten in the division.
The nation's top-ranked Division III softball team has now won 31 straight games.
"We're always taught to be aggressive," said Raiders shortstop Brittany Thorson. "Like if there is a passed ball, you better make it to the next base or you're going to hear it from Bob."
Bob would be Raiders head coach Bob Sullivan. Despite playing aggressive he said his team hasn't found its stride. The weather has had a lot to do with that.
Brittany Thorson was 6-for-8 with three RBIs.
"We had a lot more fire at the beginning of the season through midseason," said Sullivan. "This snow has really killed us. Our hitting hasn't come around like it was. We really need to pick that up heading into state."
CLC's aggressive base running resulted in seven stolen bases and seven extra base hits, including triples by Bridget Badger, Kjelsy Loeffler and Malerie Riewer.
In game two, left fielder Izzy Anderson threw out the batter at first. The Raiders committed just two errors.
"Izzy does that. Bridget Badger has done that from center and it doesn't necessarily have to be a slow person," said Sullivan. "A hard hit ball and they're coming in hard for the ball and they both have arms to get it to first. We practice that because you just never know. Whenever you can get that one extra out it's a gift. You need those type of plays."
CLC recorded 29 total hits. Every player that had an at bat recorded a hit, led by Thorson. The sophomore finished a combined 6-of-8 at the plate. She upped her average to .481 (50-of-104). She added three RBIs, three runs scored and three doubles. She leads the North with 44 RBIs.
"I try to be aggressive at the plate all the time," said Thorson. "I just needed to put my weight back."
Olivia Graham (11-0) struck out six, walked one and allowed four hits and three runs for the complete-game victory.
Central Lakes College's Bridget Badger was tagged out as she slid into third base Monday during the first game of a doubleheader with Mesabi Community College at CLC. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Thorson finished 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and run scored. Her double drove in Anderson, who was 2-4 with a run and an RBI, and gave CLC a 2-1 first-inning lead.
In both games CLC trailed 1-0 heading into the bottom of the first.
"That just makes us fight harder because we don't like to be behind," said Thorson. "At least I don't like to be behind."
Jess Michels singled in the second, stole second and scored on an error for a 3-1 Raider lead.
Calliegh Johnson reached on a fielder's choice and scored on a wild pitch in the fourth.
After Mesabi climbed to 4-3, Malerie Riewer tripled and Johnson drove her home with a single. Thorson scored the final run in the sixth.
Thorson knocked out two doubles and finished 3-4 with two runs and two RBIs.
Her RBI single in the first gave the Raiders another 2-1 first-inning lead.
Raiders 6-10, Mesabi Range 3-2
Key: Central Lakes stayed aggressive on defense and on the bases to sweep Mesabi
Division: CLC 14-0
Overall: CLC 31-1
Next: Central Lakes in Minnesota Community College Conference state tournament at St. Cloud
The Raiders belted 15 hits in just six innings. Lindsey Latour finished 3-4 with two runs, three stolen bases and three RBIs. Her sixth-inning RBI single secured the sweep.
Riewer recorded her 10th victory of the season. She struck out three, walked none and allowed five hits and one earned run.
Ali Mathison was 2-3 with a run. Bridget Badger was 1-3 with a triple, a walk and a run scored. Anderson scored twice and had a stolen base.
"We're very aggressive on the bases," said Sullivan. "We start that at the very beginning of the year. Everybody knows what everyone is going to do and when they're going to do it. We try to force the other team to make errors."
Mesabi 3 4 3
Central Lakes 6 14 0
WP - Olivia Graham. LP - Jill Wickstrom. 2B - CLC-Izzy Anderson, Bridget Badger; M-S. Mayer. 3B - CLC-Kjelsy Loeffler, Riewer. SB - CLC-Badger, Jess Michels; M-L. Johnson.
Mesabi 2 5 3
Central Lakes 10 15 2
WP - Riewer. LP - Wickstrom. 2B - CLC-Thorson 2; M-Raati. 3B - CLC-Badger. SB - CLC-Loeffler, Anderson, Lindsey Latour 3.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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