Alexandria softball coach Randy Albers said after the Cardinals fell to 0-5 with an 11-5 loss to Sartell on May 2 that he believed his young team would be ready to make a playoff run by the end of the month.

On Tuesday, Alexandria took the first step toward that by winning its Section 8AAA opener at Sauk Rapids-Rice. The Cardinals, 11-9 now and winners of nine of their last 11 games, were seeded fifth in the field. The Storm (9-10) got the fourth seed and the right to host after winning a head-to-head tiebreaker with their 9-2 win over Alexandria on May 9. The Cardinals committed three errors in that game that led to eight unearned runs. On Tuesday, they tightened up that defense and took a 7-0 lead after two innings that carried them to a 7-2 win.

Taylor Sayre and Autumn Botz delivered the biggest days at the plate for Alexandria. Sayre doubled and tripled as part of a 3-for-4 game with two runs scored and an RBI.

Botz had just one hit, but it was the biggest one of the game as her grand slam in the second inning made it a 7-0 game. Botz finished with five RBIs overall.

That made life easier for Emily Harris from the circle. She kept the Storm at bay by scattering five hits and three walks through a complete game. Harris struck out six. Her only blemish on the scoreboard came when Maddie Fuls hit a two-run home run in the sixth.  

The win for Alexandria advances the Cardinals to a semifinals game in Sartell against the top-seeded Sabres (15-5) at 4 p.m. on Thursday.    

ALEXANDRIA     160 000 0 - 7 8 1

SAUK RAPIDS    000 002 0 - 2 5 2

PITCHING - Alexandria - Emily Harris - W, 7IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 6SO; Sauk Rapids-Rice - Maddie Fuls - L, 7IP, 8H, 7R, 2ER, 4BB, 6SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Taylor Sayre - 3-4, 2B, 3B, 2 runs, RBI; Ally Albers - 0-1, 2 BB, 1 run; Asacia Halbe - 1-1; Sydney Christenson - 0-2, BB; Autumn Botz - 1-3, HR, 1 run, 5 RBI; Kendra Hardy - 1-4; Sidney Drew - 0-4; Kaci Trosvig - 1-4; Brooklyn Stender - 0-2, BB, 1 run; Carly Burns - 0-1, 1 run; Joria Downing - 1-4, 1 run

SAUK RAPIDS-RICE OFFENSE - Staci Meyer - 2-4; Chloe Stockinger - 0-2, BB; Cora Weirens - 0-3, BB, 1 run; Maddie Fuls - 1-3, HR, 1 run, 2 RBI; Alyssa Blais - 0-3; Mady Boettcher - 1-3, 2B; Danielle Schultz - 1-2, BB; Halie Kipka - 0-2; Anna Schave - 0-1; Jordyn Krueger - 0-3