It could have been one of the best prep sports comeback stories ever, but the Cretin-Derham Hall softball team was unable to write the final chapter.

The fourth-seeded Raiders made it to the Section 4AAA finals undefeated in the double-elimination tournament. They needed to win only one of two games on June 2 against top-seeded Saint Anthony Village to get to state. CDH had already beaten the Huskies 7-1 in the second round of sections and then third-seeded Mahtomedi 4-0 to advance to the final.

However, this time Saint Anthony was ready and topped the Raiders 12-7 in the first game of the finals and then 10-9 in eight innings in the second contest. The second game was extremely tough for CDH, which led 6-2 through three innings. However, a five-run fourth gave the Huskies a 7-6 lead. The Raiders still battled, but ended up losing in extra innings.

“It’s a tough way to end the season,” said Raider coach Aaron Vail.

   

“It’s a tough way to end the season,” said Raider coach Aaron Vail.

CDH finished 11-14 overall, which is pretty impressive given it started out 2-11. Five of those defeats were by 10 runs.

But the Raiders came back and, except for the twin losses to Saint Anthony in the section finals, were only beaten by Park of Cottage Grove after May 11.

 

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Vail was optimistic going into the section finals, since between COVID cases and physical injuries the team was finally in a somewhat hale state. “Nobody missed really significant time,” he said, “but we never had our lineup at full strength until now. We finally got healthy.”

The Raiders had some talented players that they thought could propel them to state. Junior infielder/outfielder Sophie Black was considered by Vail to have all-state potential. Senior shortstop and leadoff hitter Anna Caruso was another major force for CDH. Senior catcher Sammy Muetzel added good work at the plate, along with her veteran savvy defense while behind it.

Vail also commended the work of junior left fielder Catie Gaertner. She provided a solid bat and did well as a fill-in pitcher while freshman Brooke Nesdahl was out.

— Bill Wagner

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