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Alexandria catcher Emily Kuennen, left, put the tag on a Watertown-Mayer runner before she was able to score during the Cardinals' first game of Saturday's invitational. The Cardinals defeated the Royals in the first game, but fell to Maple Lake in the championship. (Lori Mork, Echo Press)

Alexandria softball: Cards are tournament runners-up

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Cardinals Alexandria, 56308
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

Despite the rain and temperatures hovering just above freezing, the Cardinal softball team soldiered on through its four-team invitational Saturday, finishing as the runners-up to Maple Lake.

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Alexandria rallied for an opening 7-5 win over Watertown-Mayer, then fell to Maple Lake 9-2 in the championship.

Alexandria 7, W-M 5

Neither team was able to get into its stride until the fourth inning when the Royals pushed across one run behind a leadoff walk and two hits, but Alexandria responded in the bottom of the inning to tie the game as Dani Carlson walked, moved to second on a sacrifice, then scored on a single by Jess Syvrud.

That seemed to be all it took to get the Cardinals going as they scored three runs in both the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings for a 7-1 lead.

Kaila Dewanz got the fifth inning started with a walk, moving to second on a sacrifice by Sarah Bruzek. Both Carlson and Syvrud then doubled and both eventually came home.

In the bottom of the sixth, Bruzek and Carlson singled, and came home on a double by Dani Strater, who also scored in the inning.

Alexandria had to hold off the Royals, who rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh to make it close.

Maple Lake 9, Alexandria 2

In the championship game, the Cardinals couldn't match the firepower of the Lakers, who had defeated Little Falls 18-5 in the first game.

Maple Lake tallied three runs in the top of the first, and Alexandria was unable to recover.

"We were able to load the bases [in the first] with a chance for a big inning, but only scored one run," said head coach Randy Albers.

Alexandria was able to score just once more, that in the third on an RBI single by Jana Roste, before Maple Lake broke it open with six runs in the fourth on a pair of hits, two walks and a pair of Cardinal errors.

"Joycelin Steidl came in in relief for Ellingson in the fourth, and managed to stop the Maple Lake rally, striking out two in the inning," said Albers. "Dewanz then came into the game in the fifth and threw three scoreless innings.

ALEXANDRIA 10-6, BRAINERD 3-2

Home runs and errors. Both played a big part in Alexandria's softball sweep of Brainerd Thursday night as the Cardinals won 10-3 and 6-2 to improve to 4-0 in Central Lakes Conference play.

The Redbirds got a big 3-run home run from Taylor Ellingson in the first game and another 2-run homer in game two by Jessica Syvrud.

Combine that with a total of nine Brainerd errors in the two games and it was smooth sailing.

The last time that the Cardinals swept Brainerd in regular season play was in 2009.

Alexandria 10, Brainerd 3

After the Cardinals went down in order to start game one, Brainerd's Sara Dick put the Warriors in the lead with a run and it looked as if Alexandria would struggle against a team that has caused them problems for the past few years.

But Jana Roste got the Cards going in the following inning as she singled home Jessica Syvrud and Taylor Ellingson pushed the score to 4-1 behind her three-run homer off the centerfield fence in the third, driving in Sarah Bruzek and Dani Carlson, who and singled and doubled their way on base.

Ellingson allowed the Warriors to score twice more in the bottom of that inning as Bailey O'Hotto singled and scored, and Hannah Kangas drove in pinch-runner Sarah Dick to cut the Alexandria lead to 4-3.

But that was all that Ellingson allowed as she gave up just one more hit in the game for a total of four, striking out eight to pick up the win.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal offense continued to rock Warrior pitcher Maddie Franz.

Bruzek, Dani Strater and Carlson all singled in the fourth to score two runs, then Emily Kuennen took advantage of one of Brainerd's errors to scamper home in the fifth.

The Cardinals hit the knockout blow in the sixth as Ellingson and Syvrud both tripled to score three runs as Brained committed errors in the fourth, fifth and sixth.

Alexandria 6, Brainerd 2

Game two was all Alexandria's as the Cardinals claimed a 6-0 lead before allowing the Warriors on the board.

Alexandria jumped off to a quick start as Syvrud's inside-the-park home run drove home Carlson for a 2-0 lead after the first inning and added another run in the second as Natalie Berglin's sacrifice bunt drove in a run.

The team capped things off as Kuennen, Roste and Berglin all singled in runs off Brainerd's Kelsey Boyd, who allowed six hits but also saw her team commit six errors.

Ellingson also got the win in game two as she struck out four.

The Cardinals are 5-2 overall this season.

GAME STATISTICS

ALEXANDRIA 031 213 0 10-13-0

BRAINERD 102 000 0 3-5-3

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Taylor Ellingson (W) 7-4-3-0-3-8; Maddie Franz (L).

ALEXANDRIA - Sarah Bruzek 3 1bs, 1 rbi; Dani Carlson 1b, 2b; Jessica Syvrud 3b, 1 rbi; Taylor Ellingson 3b, hr, 5 rbi; Emily Kuennen 1b; Jana Roste 1b, 1 rbi.

BRAINERD 000 011 0 2-6-6

ALEXANDRIA 210 300 X 6-6-1

PITCHING - Taylor Ellingson (W) 7-4-2-2-7-4; Kelsey Boyd (L) 6-6-6-6-3-1.

ALEXANDRIA - Jessica Syvrud hr, 2 rbi; Emily Kuennen 2 1bs; Jana Roste 1b, 2b, 1 rbi; Natalie Berglin 1b, 1 rbi.

W-M 000 100 4 5-6

ALEXANDRIA 000 133 X 7-6

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Taylor Ellingson (W) 7-6-4-1-2-3.

HITTING - Sarah Bruzek 1b; Dani Carlson 1b, 2b, 1 rbi; Jessica Syvrud 1b, 2b, 3 rbi; Dani Strater 2b; Kaila Dewanz 1b.

MAPLE LAKE 300 600 0 9-6

ALEXANDRIA 101 000 0 2-4

PITCHING - Taylor Ellingson (L) 3-4-3-1-1; Joycelin Steidl 1-1-1-1-2; Kaila Dewanz 3-1-0-0-2.

HITTING - Erin Ann Schueler 1b; Jana Roste 1b, 1 rbi; Dani Strater 2b; Kaila Dewanz 1b.

ALEXANDRIA

INVITATIONAL FINAL SCORES

Alexandria 7, Watertown-Mayer 5

Maple Lake 18, Little Falls 5

CHAMPIONSHIP

Maple Lake 9, Alexandria 2

CONSOLATION

CHAMPIONSHIP

Watertown-Mayer 20, Little Falls 14

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