After dropping its first game of the Minnesota Community College Conference softball tournament 11-2 to Bethany Lutheran on Saturday, the Central Lakes College Raiders softball team found itself behind the eight ball.
But as they've done all season, the Raiders came back.
They won their next two games in the losers bracket in convincing fashion, including a 17-4 rout of Minnesota West and a 12-5 drubbing of Northland at Memorial Park.
That set up a Sunday showdown with North Division rival Itasca, with whom the Raiders split four regular season games.
MCCC state tournament results
he Raiders went 2-2 on the weekend.
Itasca 7, Raiders 1
Bethany Lutheran 11, Raiders 2
Raiders 17, Minnesota West 4
Raiders 12, Northland 5
At Memorial Park, Brainerd
Rochester 4, Hibbing 0
Ridgewater 10, Northland 3
Mesabi Range 10, Minnesota West 9
Rainy River vs. Rochester
Bethany Lutheran 11, Central Lakes 2
Itasca 7, Ridgewater 1
Fergus Falls 10, Mesabi Range 3
Northland 10, Rainy River 3
Central Lakes 17, Minnesota West 4
Ridgewater 6, Hibbing 0
Central Lakes 12, Northland 5
Ridgewater 6, Mesabi 1
Rochester 3, Bethany Lutheran 2
Fergus Falls 6, Itasca 4
Itasca 7, Central Lakes 1
Ridgewater 2, Bethany Lutheran 1
Ridgewater 6, Itasca 5
Fergus Falls 11, Rochester 6
Ridgewater 9, Rochester 6
Fergus Falls 2, Ridgewater 0
The Raiders fell behind quickly as the Vikings scored seven runs in the bottom of the first inning. CLC couldn't muster another epic comeback, losing 7-1 and ending its season.
"We played about 24 games this year and I think there were only two games where we started out ahead," Raiders coach Bob Sullivan said. "We're pretty accustomed to playing from behind. It's not a place where we want to be but we've come from behind many times, it just wasn't meant to be this time."
One of the most memorable come-from-behind wins of the season came on April 14 against Northland. CLC was down 9-6, with only eight healthy players and one on crutches, coming back to tie the game but eventually losing.
Because of the effort the Raiders showed in that game, the MCCC coaches voted in a new rule to allow teams to continue play with only eight players.
"This is an outstanding team effort," Sullivan said. "We started telling them at the beginning of the season, 'Effort, effort, effort.' The way they hung in at that Northland game, and with only nine players the rest of the year, showed the rest of the state what this team is about."
Itasca did its damage in the first, scoring seven runs on six hits. Ashley Olson's bases loaded triple scored three runs and Cari Bukovich's single scored two others.
The Raiders had chances to get back into the game. CLC had runners on second and third in the first with two outs and loaded the bases in the second inning, but couldn't deliver the big hit.
The Raiders finally got on the board in the third when Kayla Pohlkamp reached on a fielder's choice. Jenna Carlson then ripped a double to right-center field to score Pohlkamp.
"We really didn't make too many mistakes in the first inning," Sullivan said. "Itasca just hit the ball really well and found some gaps. They outplayed us in that first inning but they earned those runs. Take away that first inning and it's a pretty even game."
Elsie Rehberger was 3-for-4 and Carlson was 2-for-3.
For the tournament, Rehberger had six hits, with two doubles and four RBI; Leigha Walters had five hits and three RBI; Pohlkamp had four hits and five RBI; and Jackie Sullivan had four hits, including a triple and two RBI.
Itasca 7 8 2
Central Lakes 1 8 3
WP -- Brittney Brown. LP -- Amber Buttler. Overall -- CLC 19-11. Next game -- CLC season complete.
Central Lakes 2 4 2
Bethany Lutheran 11 12 3
WP -- Ashley Danielson. LP -- Amber Buttler.
Central Lakes 17 17 1
Minnesota West 4 7 3
WP -- Buttler. 2B -- CLC-Elsie Rehberger. 3B -- CLC-Rene Springer, Beth Rogge, Jackie Sullivan. RBI -- CLC-Sullivan 2, Springer 4, Rehberger 2, Rogge 2, Kayla Pohlkamp, Leigha Walters, Buttler.
Central Lakes 12 13 4
Northland 5 6 3
WP -- Buttler. 2B -- CLC-Rogge. 3B -- CLC-Lindsey Finco. RBI -- CLC -Rehberger 2, Pohlkamp 3, Walters 2, Rogge, Finco.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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