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Softball: Woodbury tumbles to eighth-ranked North

Woodbury senior catcher Kaitlyn Rocco homered for the Royals only run of the game in an 8-1 loss to North Friday in girls section softball. Rocco lined out to third in this photo, the final out of the game. John Molene / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 4
Woodbury's Abby Lozano looks like she has tagged out North base runner Talli Martinez, but the runner was called safe at third on the play. John Molene / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 4
Woodbury ninth-grade pitcher Nicole Stickels throws to the plate in the second inning against North St. Paul Friday. John Molene / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 4
Anna O'Connor of the Royals sends a pitch flying, but was put out at first in the third inning Friday against North St. Paul. John Molene / RiverTown Multimedia 4 / 4

Unlike its first two section games, Woodbury just couldn't get anything much going at the plate and dropped a Section 4AAAA championship bracket contest to host North, losing 8-1 at McKnight Field Friday.

The loss dropped the Royals in the section consolation bracket, where they will have to win three straight games to return to the state tournament. Woodbury (9-12) will play Stillwater (10-12) Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the consolation finals for a shot to advance to the section finals Thursday.

Sillwater ripped Cretin-Derham Hall 10-2 in the late game Friday to advance to a date with the Royals. Woodbury swept the Ponies this season, winning 3-2 and 13-3.

Eighth-ranked North (15-2) will play the winner of Woodbury-Stillwater in the section finals.

Woodbury outslugged White Bear Lake 12-11 in eight innings and Mounds View 13-3 in five innings to advance through the first two rounds.

But in Friday's game the Woodbury bats were mostly silent. The Royals had six hits and six strikeouts, but could never string anything together.

Woodbury got its only run in the fifth on a solo two-out home run by senior catcher Kaitlyn Rocco.

The sixth and seventh were especially tough for the Royals offensively as five of six batters were put out by the North pitcher. With two out in the seventh, Rocco ripped a shot down the third base line only to have it fly straight into the glove of the North third baseman to end the game.

North, on the other hand, pounded out 13 hits in the win.

"The other team just hit better than we did today," said Woodbury head coach Michelle Welch. "They got a lot in the gaps and they hit it in the right spot and we didn't."

North was in control the entire game — which was stopped for about a half hour when lightning was spotted and then resumed. The Polars led 1-0 after one, 4-0 after two innings, 7-0 after four and 8-1 after five.

"We've just got to let this one roll off their backs," said Woodbury assistant coach Rachel Nicholas. "And start fresh, have good rest this weekend and we'll be ready to go on Tuesday."