The Cambridge-based women’s slow-pitch softball team advanced to the championship round of the MSF/NSF Women’s State/Men’s and Women’s North American Championships held at Sandquist Park the weekend of Aug. 23-25.
Entering the final day of play Sunday, the Misfits’ mission was simple: To win the Class D/E women’s title in the “tournament of champions” on their home field, the needed to beat Cityview, a team from Chisago County.
What’s more, the Misfits advanced to the championship round out of the winner’s bracket, meaning they would get two chances to win the one game they needed to secure the title.
But in the first meeting of the two teams Sunday, Cityview blew out the Misfits 18-6 to set up a winner-take-all championship game.
In that second contest, the Misfits appeared ready to return the favor, scoring five runs in their first at-bat to take 5-2 lead after one inning. But Cityview scored at least one run in each of the remaining innings, while the Misfits could only manage single runs in the second and sixth innings.
“We just couldn’t hit,” Misfits team manager Nicole Lenzen said. “And that’s what the game is about – hitting together.”
The dagger for the Misfits came in the bottom of the fourth inning. Cornerstone had scored a run in the top of that frame to tie the game at 6-6, only to see the Misfits load the bases with one out.
But the Misfits lined into an inning-ending double play, and Cityview added a run in the fifth and three in the sixth to pull away.
“That was especially hard, because we beat them the day before,” Lenzen said. “We knew we could do it; we beat them last year to win state. We had two chances to beat them once, and we just couldn’t do it.”
It was a disappointing finish to a fine season for the Misfits, which earned their spot in the post-season tournament by claiming a share of the title in the Cambridge Softball Association’s summer league. The Misfits posted a 20-4 record in league play to tie with a squad called Chaos for the crown.
“We had a three-way tie going into the final week of the season, and we beat one of the teams we were tied with to make it a two-way tie for first,” Lenzen said.
Among the players named to the all-tournament team was Kayla Leibel of the Misfits.
In the other women’s division of the tournament, a team called Free Agents, based in Brooklyn Center, won the Class C/DD championship for the second year in a row, this year knocking off the Minnesota Frost 8-6 in the title game.
On the men’s side, Local 218, a squad based in Brainerd, won the Class C/DD championship by beating the defending champions, Royal Pains of Sauk Rapids, by a 29-14 score in the title game. A Cambridge squad called the Mystery Gang took third place.
And the Men’s Class D/E crown went to Thompson DNA from Elk River. That team defeated another Cambridge-based team, the Brew Crew, by a 17-12 count in the championship contest.
The all-tournament team on the men’s side included Brandon Gageby and Cody Kielsa of the Mystery Gang and Josh Rouse from the Brew Crew.
“The tournament featured some of the finest softball teams in Minnesota,” said tournament manager Duke Weisbrod. “We were pleased that every team but one played at least four games, and most played more, in what was a very well-played tournament.”
Weisbrod explained that teams that traveled to Cambridge were happy to participate in a tournament that gave them a chance to play multiple games.
“Many tournaments are ‘two-and-barbecue,’” he said. “In other words, they are double-elimination – two losses and you’re out. We have found that teams want to play, and in this tournament they got the chance to play.”
And while the Misfits did not win the championship in their division, Lenzen said she was happy her team had a chance to play again on its home field following a successful summer.
“It’s fun to see teams come here for a competitive tournament – it’s a fun experience,” she said.