Central Lakes College Raiders softball coach Bob Sullivan proclaimed he had the best catcher in Minnesota.
After Friday's 6-4 comeback victory, and a 7-5 first-game decision over the Hibbing Cardinals, Leigha Walters made that an easy statement to make.
The Brainerd High School graduate was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two stolen bases.
"It felt good to run the bases, get aggressive out there and score some (runs)," said Walters. "(Stealing bases) is a lot of fun. I got my adrenaline going. I was just aggressive. It's fun being safe."
She also reached on an error in the decisive sixth inning. That same error allowed Megan Eastman to score from second, leading to the final score.
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Kayla Pohlkamp ignited a three-run rally with a leadoff walk. Elsie Rehberger, another former Brainerd Warrior, followed with an RBI double and later scored on Amanda Monnier's RBI single.
It was Monnier's first action since injuring her knee.
"That was a key hit." said Sullivan. "That took us up by one run and that was a key hit. If nobody would have been on base we probably would have hit Megan Eastman to save her. She's still nursing that leg."
CLC won the game thanks to a highlight reel defensive play in the seventh.
With a runner on first, Breann Pelto lined a shot to left field. Rehberger fielded the ball and fired to third base. The Raiders got the tag at third, then threw to second to get Pelto for a double play.
"I just tell the girls it's all about effort," said Sullivan. "Whoever gives the most effort usually is the most successful.
"The first seven or eight games of the year we were behind before we were ahead.
"Maybe we play a little better under pressure."
Pohlkamp finished 2-for-3 with two runs.
Raiders 7-6, Hibbing 5-4
Raider antagonizers: Without collecting a hit, Elsie Rehberger caused enough problems for Hibbing in game one. In the second game, Leah Walters was the instigator in a comeback victory.
Next: vs. Rainy River, noon Saturday, at Northland 3 p.m. Monday
Pohlkamp was 2-3 with two runs and one RBI in the 7-5 game one victory.
Jackie Sullivan was 1-3 with two runs, but it was Rehberger who did most of the damage -- sort of.
The freshmen left fielder didn't collect a hit but put things in motion for the Cardinals to hurt themselves.
In the third inning, Rehberger laced a shot toward third base. An errant throw put her on and scored Jackie Sullivan and Rene Springer. Rehberger scored on another Hibbing error.
In the fifth inning, Rehberger reached base on another error and scored on Pohlkamp's single.
Hibbing committed four errors.
"We're always really aggressive with baserunning," Bob Sullivan said. "That's part of the game plan and we work on that a lot in practice."
Amber Buttler, who picked up the game two victory in relief, pitched a complete-game victory in game one. She allowed seven hits and four walks and struck out four. The freshman from Aitkin retired the side in the sixth to seal the win.
"We just keep competing," said Walters. "We have to fight back when they're ahead and stay competitive when we're ahead."
Hibbing 110 201 0 -- 5 7 4
Central Lakes 104 020 x -- 7 3 2
Hibbing -- Emily Elmquist and LeAnn Koskela; Central Lakes -- Amber Buttler and Leigha Walters. WP -- Buttler. LP -- Elmquist. RBI -- CLC-Kayla Pohlkamp 1, H-Shawtae Holter, Koskela.
Hibbing 111 010 0 -- 4 8 1
Central Lakes 011 013 x -- 6 7 3
Hibbing -- Crystal Smerud and LeAnn Koskela; Central Lakes -- Megan Eastman (2), Buttler and Walters. WP -- Buttler. LP -- Smerud. 2B -- CLC-Elsie Rehberger, H-Christine Jones. 3B -- Koskela. SB -- CLC-Walters (2), RBI -- CLC-Buttler, Rene Springer, Amanda Monnier, Rehberger. Conference -- CLC 14-6. Overall -- CLC 15-7.
jeremy millsop can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.
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