College Softball: Raiders split with Northland to remain 2nd in MCAC North

Central Lakes College hosts a doubleheader with Northland Tuesday, May 5

Central Lakes College's Chloe Munsch hits the ball against Northland Wednesday, May 5, 2021, at Findorff Athletic Complex in in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

With second place in the MCAC North on the line, the Central Lakes College Raiders got a much needed split with Northland Wednesday, May 5.

A four-run first inning sparked a 9-7 Raiders win in Game One.

Jenna Gratz picked up the win and struck out seven in 5.1 innings.

Northland scored two in the top of the first, but the Raiders were quick to respond getting the first three batters on base. An Addie Sanford sacrifice fly and a Katie Johnson RBI double capped off the four-run first and a quick start.

The Raiders got off to a quick start in Game Two and scored three runs the first inning in their 7-5 loss. Just like Game One, the top of the order of Gratz, Syd Johnson and Cassidy Zontelli all reached. Sarah Kossan drove in two runs with a RBI single and Paige Soltis plated another with a single.


“We want to be ahead for the whole game and if you can get a good start in that first inning it gives the rest of the team energy,” said Raiders head coach Ray Austin of his team’s quick starts in both games. “When you start fast in that first inning it puts the other team on its heels and eliminates a lot of the stuff they can do.”

CLC Softball vs Northland Gallery

Game One saw the Raiders take an 8-3 lead into the fifth inning with two runs added in the second and fourth innings.

In the second inning, Zontelli ripped an RBI triple and scored on a Kossan double. Then in the fourth, Sanford recorded her second RBI with a double and scored on a Soltis single.

“I never feel like we are in a situation where we have to get to the top of the lineup,” Austin said. “One through nine they can all put the ball in play and hit the ball for power. Most of them can run a little bit, so it’s nice to be able to not have a weak spot.”

Gratz ran into some trouble in the fifth as Northland plated four runs, but left the bases loaded after Gratz induced an inning ending double play.

“She was throwing really well,” Austin said. “First time through the lineup, I think she had about four or five strikeouts. She moved the ball in and out really well.”

After two of the first three batters got on in the sixth, Gratz was relieved by Sanford who closed the last 1.2 innings.


The Raiders added one insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a Sanford single, which was her third RBI.

“We stayed the course in that first game,” Austin said. “Addie Sanford came in and shut them down at the end. Jenna (Gratz) saw them three times and I wasn’t going to let her see them a fourth. They have some good hitters on that team and we kind of held them in check the first game. We did a lot of the fundamentals right in that first game and lost some of that in the second game, so we need to work on our consistency.”

Sanford got the start in Game Two and after she got a 3-0 cushion Northland scored one in the second and four in the third to take a 5-3 lead.

Justine Pratcshler, who went 4-4 in Game Two, led off the top of the second for Northland with a home run. She hit her second home run, a three-run shot, in the third to give the Pioneers the lead.

Grace Minten followed Pratcshler with a home run of her own as Northland went back-to-back on Sanford in the third.

Sanford scored on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third to make it 5-4, but the Raiders stranded two runners.


Northland got two runs in the top of the fifth that started with an Isis Johnson single and a Pratcshler double. Johnson scored on a sacrifice fly to the first baseman in foul territory and Pratcshler scored on a groundout.

Trailing by three headed into the last half of the seventh, Sanford led off with a triple, which was her fourth hit of the doubleheader. She scored on a sacrifice fly by Sultis, which was her second RBI of Game Two.

Sanford went all seven innings and struck out six after tallying two strikeouts in Game One.

“She’s such an even-keeled kid,” Austin said. “When she went in for the first game she did really well. Northland’s four-five-six hitters had her dialed in a bit in the second game, but she never hangs her head and goes right after the next batter.”

After two flyouts, the Raiders settle for a split and remain in the second place of the MCAC North with a 10-4 record.

The Raiders did lose Katie Johnson, who came out during her second at-bat in Game One with a leg injury.

“It’s tough to see because she’s worked really hard all year,” Austin said. “She’s really started to hit the ball the last four or five games. Everything was right on the line in the gaps. It’s unfortunate that she went down. The good news is that we don’t play for two weeks in the conference tournament so we have some time to give her some rest.”

Game One
Northland 7 11 2
Central Lakes 9 11 3
WP: Jenna Gratz. LP: Desi Lawrence. 2B: CLC-Katie Johnson, Sarah Kossan, Addie Sanford, Paige Soltis. 3B: CLC-Cassidy Zontelli, N-Desi Lawrence.

Game Two
Northland 7 10 0
Central Lakes 5 10 4
WP: Lexi Huot. LP: Addie Sanford. 2B: N-Justine Pratcshler. 3B: CLC-Addie Sanford. HR: N-Justine Pratcshler (2), Grace Minten. Division: CLC 10-4. Overall: CLC 12-11. Next: CLC at St. Cloud Technical (2) noon Saturday, May 8.
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