By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
When it rains it usually pours.
The St. Michael-Albertville softball season ended after dropping a 9-0 Section 5AAA playoff loss to Centennial on a rainy Monday afternoon at Rice Creek Park in Mounds View.
Fighting the weather elements was only half the battle in Monday’s playoff loss. Centennial senior pitcher Cathryn Schloer provided the Knights with an even bigger challenge from the mound.
The 6-foot-1 southpaw was dominating. She hurled a complete-game shutout and was overpowering in the process. She didn’t allow a hit until senior infielder Ashley Stecker singled with two out in the bottom of the fifth inning.
By that time, the Cougars enjoyed a comfortable 8-0 lead, thanks to a big six-run top of the fifth inning.
“I thought earlier in the game things were looking good,” said STMA head coach Kellie Shumway. “We got a couple runners on and then we strike out and that kind of put an end to the rally.”
Senior pitcher Alex Berg ended several Centennial rallies early on. The Cougars stranded base runners in every inning until they erupted for six in the fifth inning.
In the meantime, Schloer and the Cougars were cruising. The tall lanky lefthander allowed only four hits in seven innings while fanning eight.
“(Schloer) was very good and she threw hard,” Shumway said. “Unfortunately in our conference we don’t see a lot of girls that throw that hard and she was the first left-handed pitcher we’ve seen all year.”
The Cougars (7-10 overall) advanced to take on Irondale in the Section 5AAA quarterfinals and STMA’s season ended with the Knights dropping their last five contests.
A 2-1 loss on May 14 at Buffalo cost the Knights a shot at winning the conference title outright and the Knights and Bison ended as co-champs of the M-8. STMA also dropped a doubleheader on May 17 at Eden Prairie. Sophomore pitcher Krista Slavin pitched in both games in which the Eagles won by scores of 10-7 and 12-0.
STMA’s loss to the Cougars dropped their final record to 8-9 for the season.
“Centennial’s record coming in was very misleading,” Shumway said. “They play in an extremely tough conference. They play the Maple Grove’s, who are ranked No. 2 in the state and three of the teams in the Northwest Suburban Conference were ranked top-10 in the state.”