Cougar girls go 3-4, take second at Hayfield Tourney

LEE EPPS/NEWS LEADER Kenidi McCabe tags out Carlton's Taylor Nelson at second base during the championship game of the Hayfield Tournament.

LEE EPPS/NEWS LEADER Jordyn Newgard scores under a tag of Carlton catcher Alaina Bennett to tie the score at the Hayfield Tournament.
Chad Smith

Busy doesn’t even begin to describe last week for the Mabel-Canton softball team. Seven games in six days are tough on anyone. The Cougars came out of that stretch with three wins and all but two of the games could have gone either way.

The May 11 Hayfield tournament at the end of last week put the M-C girls in five games over a span of 24 hours, three of them against top-three state-ranked teams.

The girls fell at Class AA Caledonia/Spring Grove 5-4 on May 6, one day before a long trip to defeat Class AA Cannon Falls 4-1.

Class A state-ranked No. 1 Randolph swept a double header at Mabel-Canton on Friday before another long trip to Hayfield the next morning where the Cougars won twice before falling in the championship game to another state-ranked club.

Shortly before the press deadline, Mabel-Canton edged Houston in conference play 13-12, improving to 8-6 overall (5-4 SEC). Coverage of that Houston game will be in next week's News Leader

Cal/SG 5, M-C 4       

Caledonia/Spring Grove had never led until a walk-off, RBI single from Claire Buttell sent Teagan Lange home with the winning run.

The Cougars took a 2-0 first-inning lead, and it took the Warriors five more innings to pull even at 3-3.

M-C quickly added three runs in the top of the sixth only to see the home team answer just as quickly with three runs in the bottom of the inning.

The Cougars went down in order in the seventh before the Warriors won it with three hits.

Overall, Cal/SG out-hit M-C 15 to 5, but the Warriors stranded 10 runners on base, twice leaving the bases loaded.

Cal/SG played without an error while the Cougars had only two. M-C survived the first miscue, but the second error was a big one. It opened the door for three unearned runs that tied the score 3-3 in the sixth inning.

Kenidi McCabe batted 2 for 4 with a first-inning triple. Four of the five Cougar hits came in the three-run sixth inning. McCabe led off with a single, followed by a single from Lexi Thorson before Payton Danielson drove in two runs and Emily Carolan one.

For Cal/SG, Lydia Lange (triple), Kati Tornstrom (double) and  Kaydi Breeser each hit 3 for 4.

Emily Carolan took the pitching loss despite allowing only three earned runs in six and a third innings. Grace Privet got the win, striking out six while giving up four earned runs. Both pitchers exhibited good control, issuing only two walks each

MC 4, CF 1                     

Cannon Falls freshman pitcher Abby Breuer struck out 19 batters and walked only two, but the Bomber offense managed only one run off Mabel-Canton freshman pitcher Emily Carolan.

The Cougars won a 4-1 road game against a Class AA team. The Cougars played without any errors, while the only Bomber error proved costly. 

M-C freshman Molly Lee (2 for 3) opened the scoring with a lead-off, over-the-fence, solo home run in the second inning. That slim 1-0 lead held until the fifth when the Cougars created some breathing room with three-runs. They took advantage of an error and a walk, with an RBI-triple from Carolan.

M-C coach Kati Bergey said Breuer was the best pitcher the Cougars have faced. Breuer had 19 strikeouts. Only two of the M-C outs in the game were not strikeouts, but one was a sacrifice fly by Kenidi McCabe that drove in the final Cougar run.

Meanwhile, Carolan scattered three hits into three different innings and was not seriously threatened until the seventh inning. Three of the six Bomber hits came in their final at-bat as the home team avoided the shutout.

Cannon Falls slipped to 5-5 on the season before winning two of their next three games.

Double header

State-ranked No. 1 Randolph (14-1, 10-0 SEC) remained undefeated in conference play with a doubleheader sweep at Mabel-Canton, 9-4, and 10-1.

Game 1: Ran 9, M-C 4    

In game one, there were plenty of hits with 11 for M-C and 13 for the Rockets. Randolph had all of the extra-base knocks — a triple and five doubles. Despite all that power and only two Cougar errors, Carolan gave up only one earned run

The Rockets led only 1-0 after three innings before a six-hit, six-run explosion in the fourth. Randolph scored the first nine runs and M-C the final four.

Cougar bats came to life late with six of their 11 hits coming while scoring all four runs in the final two innings. Lee hit 2 for 3 while driving in two runs. McCabe and Jordyn Newgard each went 2 for 4.

Eight M-C batters had base hits, with one each from Carolan, Danielson (RBI), Hannah Snell, Thorson, and Maddy Michels,

Megan Erickson (2 RBIs) and Meredith Taylor (RBI) each batted 3 for 5 with a double for Randolph.

Game 2: Ran 10, M-C 1

In game two, Randolph was the home team in the scorebook and out-hit the Cougars 12 to 3. Once again, the Rockets had most of the power, finishing with four doubles to one for M-C.

This time, the Cougars scored the first run and Randolph the final 10. Two Randolph errors ushered across two M-C runs in the first inning. Winning pitcher Maddie Dibble had a one-hitter going (McCabe single) until Newgard singled and Carolan doubled in the seventh inning.

There was no charity after the two early errors as Dibble walked no one while striking out eight. For the Rockets, Morgyn Otte went 3 for 4 with three doubles and three RBIs while Kenna Foss went 3 for 3 and Erickson hit a home run. 

Hayfield Tournament

M-C 6, Hayfield 4

In the opening round of the Hayfield Tournament. Mabel-Canton rallied late to overtake the host team, 6-4. Down 4-1, the Cougars rallied to score the final five runs in the last two innings. The win was the first of three very close tournament games for Mabel-Canton.

The Cougars out-hit the Vikings 10 to 6, but M-C left a dozen runners on base while Hayfield stranded a half-dozen. Each team had four early-morning errors, resulting in half of the runs for each team being unearned.

Snell, McCabe and Michels each had two hits with one run batted in. Cloey Busch came up big with a crucial two-out, two-RBI single. Lee, Carolan, and Newgard also contributed a hit apiece.

The defensive highlight of the game took place in the outfield. With a runner in scoring position, Danielson went to the fence to catch what would otherwise have been a home run, keeping the Vikings scoreless in the first inning.

While Hayfield was playing at home, the Cougars had a long, early-morning bus ride to play the 8:30 a.m. opener.

M-C 6, Houston 5

The semi-final went to an extra eighth inning, during which M-C outscored Houston 2-1 to win the game 6-5 and advance to the championship game.

With a tiebreaking rule in effect, each team started the extra frame with a runner on second base. In the top of the eighth, the Cougars scored twice with a walk and an error. Houston, in the bottom half, scored only once with the aid of an error.

The Hurricanes had opened the scoring with three unearned runs in the third inning. However, M-C rallied in the fifth with four runs on four hits, including two doubles.

Snell led off with a double and scored on a Danielson single. A two-RBI double from Newgard tied the score at 3-all before Newgard scored the go-ahead run on a single by Lee.

Houston tied it again with a single and an Olivia Beckman triple with no outs in the sixth. The Cougars got three outs before Beckman could get home and break the tie. In the seventh, both teams threatened but were both denied by a double play.

With two outs in the bottom of the inning, a Hurricane blast again sent Danielson to the fence where her catch prevented a game-winning home run. After that, it was on to the extra inning.

Michels batted 2 for 2 while McCabe went 2 for 5 with a double. There was one hit each from Snell (double), Newgard (double), Lee, Danielson, and Carolan.

Houston (5-11) had reached the semi-final with an opening 6-5 win over Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop (G-F-W).

Carlton 5, M-C 4

After playing a doubleheader against the state's top-ranked Class A team the previous afternoon, Mabel-Canton led most of the way but fell late 5-4 against undefeated and state-ranked No. 3 Carlton in the tournament championship game.

After leading 4-1, the Cougars fell behind just before the tournament time limit denied them an opportunity to bat one more time.

The Bulldogs (12-0), who had come down from the Duluth area, took advantage of two late Cougar errors to score the tying run and then the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning, just before the game ended with the time limit

The Bulldogs out-hit the Cougars 7 to 5 and committed two fewer errors. A total of eight errors (M-C 5, Carlton 3) played a major role with only two earned runs for each team.

But there was also some great defense. Danielson came up with a diving catch in center field. McCabe, at shortstop, had a pair of quality grabs and a diving tag. 

All five Cougars hits came from different players, with one each from Newgard (double), Danielson (RBI), Lauren Wyffels (RBI), McCabe, and Carolan.

M-C took a 2-1 lead with Lee scoring on a sacrifice fly RBI from Busch in the second inning and stayed ahead until the end.

Carlton had advanced to the title game with a 16-1 win over Kenyon-Wanamingo and a tight 7-6 semi-final victory over New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (NRHEG). For M-C, it was the fifth game in slightly more than 24 hours


The final week of the regular season won’t be any less busy for the Cougars, who already kicked it off with a home win against Houston, and played at GMLOK on Tuesday as this edition was going to press,

There was a rare makeup Wednesday game at home against Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons. The last two games of the regular season are both at home, starting today (Thursday, May 16) against Lyle/Pacelli and against Fillmore Central on Friday, May 17.