Seventh inning stunner

Ely scores three in final frame, beats Cromwell in 7A opener

by Tom Coombe
Down to their last three outs, the Ely Timberwolves rose to the occasion on Tuesday.
A triple by Charly Flom started the rally while Rachel Coughlin’s key blow finished it off.
Coughlin’s bases-clearing double in the bottom of the seventh gave the host Wolves a 5-4 victory over Cromwell in a Section 7A high school softball playoff encounter.
The seventh-seeded Wolves, who improved to 11-5, needed three runs in the final frame to down the 10th-seeded Cardinals and move into the double-elimination phase of the tournament, which started Thursday at Grand Rapids.
It looked like Cromwell (5-10) might eke out a victory, especially after the Wolves stranded two runners in the fifth.
But Ely Head Coach Cory Lassi held out hope, particularly given a seventh-inning that started with Flom, his lead-off hitter, at the plate.
“I was confident in that we had the right people up at the plate,” said Lassi. “We did the little things right that kept us in the game, and each half inning as we came off the field I said we were getting runners on and we needed somebody to step up and get a big hit.”
That came in the bottom of the seventh with the Wolves trailing 4-2.
Flom, who finished with three hits, led off the frame with a sharp hit to right-center gap, and the senior shortstop made it all the way to third.
“She hit it really hard and it ignited our dugout and it was like ‘here we go,’” said Lassi.
Losing pitcher Vaida Blomquist, who recorded eight strikeouts, had trouble finding the plate after Flom’s hit and both Clare Thomas and Kate Coughlin walked to load the bases.
Rachel Coughlin stepped up to plate and she ripped a Blomquist offering past the third baseman and into left field.
Flom and Thomas scored easily and Kate Couglin scampered home when the ball got by the left fielder to give the Wolves a walkoff win.
The hit capped off a big day by Rachel Coughlin, who finished with three hits and four runs batted in.
Cromwell scored three first inning runs against winning pitcher Katrina Seliskar but the Ely senior settled in.
Seliskar went the distance, giving up only three hits and recording five strikeouts.
The win set up a showdown on Thursday, held after deadline, against traditional powerhouse Cherry.
The second-seeded Tigers won easily in their first-round contest and are one of the favorites in the double-elimination tournament.
“Now we get paired up with Cherry,” said Lassi. “You mention Cherry and everyone’s eyes get big as they are so good every year. But it’s one of those things, if we play like we’re capable of playing we’ll be in the game and I think we’ll have a chance. We can’t go in thinking we’ll get 10-runned. We’re a good ballclub and we can compete with any of these teams.”
Win or lose, the Wolves were to play twice Thursday with the second game coming against either third-seeded North Woods or number-six Silver Bay. Ely lost to both teams during the regular season but its scheduled contest with Cherry was a casualty of the weather.
The Wolves needed one win Thursday to advance into the next round of games, set for Tuesday, May 31 at Cloquet.
• In the May 20 regular season finale, senior Raven Sainio had two hits with four runs batted in as the Wolves blew out visiting Floodwood 15-5 in five innings.
Ely shook off a slow start to pick up the decisive win, hammering out 11 hits along the way.
Rachel Coughlin was two-for-three with three runs scored, while Thomas finished with two hits, two RBI and two runs scored.
Kate Coughlin scored twice and drove in three runs while Seliskar tossed a five-hitter with six strikeouts.