Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.
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ST. PAUL – Red Wing's Al Bettich and Ben Schaffer got to within one match of state, reaching the true second-place match of the Section 4A doubles tournament. While being able to play a tight first set with St. Paul Academy duo Rahul Dev and Jeffrey Huang, Bettich and Schaffer came up short in their state bid with a 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 loss at St. Paul Academy and Summit School on Thursday.
RANDOLPH – Pitching and defense is something that Randolph knew they had plenty of coming into the season. Combine that with an offense that has improved as the season's gone on, and the Rockets are hoping the season will last well into June. And in the first round of the Section 1A-East playoffs Thursday, second-seeded Randolph had little trouble utilizing all three phases of the game in a convincing 10-0 five-inning victory against seventh-seeded Spring Grove.
RANDOLPH – Fast starts haven't been the problem for the Randolph softball team this season. Maintaining those fast starts have been the issue. That nearly cost the second-seeded Rockets in the first round of the Section 1A-East tournament when they were nearly upset by seventh-seeded Mabel-Canton in the opening round before winning 12-11 on Tuesday. “They've done a good job of jumping on people, just in middle innings we fall asleep sometimes,” said Randolph head coach Dennis Trom.
WANAMINGO – There were times in the Hiawatha Valley League championship game where frustration got the better of Cannon Falls. It was no wonder why: the Bombers and host Kenyon-Wanamingo were in the midst of a title game where hits were tough to come by and scoring runs were few and far between over 12 innings of baseball. But between the advice of coaches and the constant cheering on of teammates, frustration was short-lived for Cannon Falls. Eventually, a breakthrough would come.
STILLWATER – Elise Leise was not about to let the baton leave her hands. Going into the final event of the Class 2A state True Team meet Saturday, the 4x400-meter relay, all Red Wing had to do is run an error-free race to clinch the championship. Running the final leg of the 4x400, the baton was not leaving Leise's white-knuckle grip. And even after the foursome of Elayna Meyer, Emily Hart, Kianna Stewart and Leise won the race in 4 minutes, 4.31 seconds, that baton was not about to leave Leise's hand. At least until dinner afterwards.
CANNON FALLS – Lake City's girls' golf team has found the perfect time to peak. A day after knocking off Red Wing at The Jewel, the Tiger girls brought home some hardware after winning the Hiawatha Valley League tournament in convincing fashion at the Cannon Golf Club. “It's a lot of pressure to play well and play our best each time as a team,” said junior Lexi Geolat. “And we've done really well all season doing just that. … We all get along really well and we're friends on and off the course. We all just work hard and are passionate about the game. We all care a lot.
LAKE CITY – Playing against the hottest team in the Hiawatha Valley League Saturday, Cannon Falls needed the right mental makeup to pull off the doubleheader sweep against Lake City. The first game went swimmingly with an 11-0 five-inning victory to snap the Tigers' seven-game win streak. Game 2 saw Lake City jump out to a 7-1 lead after the top of the fifth inning, making a split seem imminent.
Red Wing was one pitch away from going into the bottom of the fifth inning tied 0-0 with Rochester Mayo. With two outs and a 3-2 count, the Spartans' Ashley Wandler reached for an outside pitch from Hannah Rodgers. And, Wandler connected, bringing home two runs in the process. And from that point, Mayo was finally able to put some distance between itself and the Wingers. With a three-run fifth and an eight-run seventh inning, the Spartans raced by Red Wing for an 11-0 Big Nine Conference victory at Red Wing High School.
For the second time in four days, Red Wing has an idea about how they stack up against Class 3A's best. Hosting the Winger Invitational Tuesday at Mississippi National Golf Links, Red Wing and Edina were on the same course again after playing against one another Saturday at Rosemount. “It's been interesting,” said Red Wing junior Stephanie Herzog. “These don't really matter unless we get to state, but it's nice to see how we stack up against each other and know who's really good, where their weaknesses are, that kind of thing.”
PINE ISLAND – A week ago, Pine Island head coach Craig Anderson said his team came off the field humbled. Taking a 7-1 loss against Cannon Falls, there was plenty the Panthers needed to fix, and one of the key points was coming out with a more aggressive plan of attack. “The other day we thought we were a little tentative, a lot of times watching strike one,” Anderson said. “We said every hitter has got to be going up there and before the pitch, you got to be saying, 'Yes, yes, yes.' I'm not sure we were saying 'Yes' last week.”