Prep softball: Zembo’s one-hitter lifts Superior past Cloquet
The Spartans’ 10-run first inning was more than enough to secure a win over the Lumberjacks.
SUPERIOR — After rain and snow the past two weeks delayed the start of softball season, Superior wasted no time getting going when it hosted Cloquet Monday.
The Spartans bats came in the first and fourth innings to take a 16-1, five-inning win over the Lumberjacks.
Spartans junior Haley Zembo got through the first inning without allowing a hit and in the bottom half of the inning, the Spartans exploded.
They took advantage of Cloquet freshman Allie Jones’s inexperience and control problems for 10 runs in the first inning. Jones finished with nine walks and eight wild pitches, several that led to Spartan runs.
Zembo found herself in a jam in the second inning, when she loaded the bases with no outs. Zembo fanned one batter. She got another Lumberjack out, but Winona State recruit Dana Jones sent a dribbler up the third base line and beat out the throw for Cloquet’s only hit of the day and an RBI.
“I felt pretty good, I think that there were things I could have worked on and done better, on hitting my spots,” Zembo said. “It was kind of a struggle back and forth but I think that Emma (Raye) helped me out a lot getting my pitches for strikes.”
Zembo said some Lumberjacks batters were moving back in the box to account for pitches on the inside, so she tried to hit the outside corner and move the ball back to the inside to keep Cloquet hitters guessing.
“Haley did a nice job, she worked around the plate,” Cloquet coach Tyler Korby said. “We focused on trying to stay off that rise ball a little bit. I thought we had some good at bats, we drew some walks and got some runners on base. I liked our discipline at the plate, but she doesn’t give up too many. She’s going to live around the plate and I thought she did a nice job.”
Jones settled in the next two innings — save a solo shot over the centerfield fence by Raye, a Wisconsin recruit, in the third inning — and held the Spartans in check.
The Spartans caught on in the fourth and picked up five more runs and ended the game early after Cloquet came up empty in the top of the fifth.
Korby was also impressed with the way Jones and his team bounced back for the middle innings, particularly when they got a run in the second and kept the Spartans off the scoreboard.
“It’s not easy to bounce back like that,” Korby said. “The girls showed a lot of resiliency, which is nice to see. It was great to see Allie out there, just a ninth-grader, battling against arguably the top team in the area. That’s no easy task to be in the gym for four weeks and come out here and do your best.”
Jones allowed 10 hits in four innings and struck out four batters.
Raye was 2-for-3 on the day with a home run and two runs scored.
Zembo finished with 10 strikeouts and just one hit, but she also walked six batters.
Superior coach Mike Sather was impressed with the one-hitter and his team's hitting, but was concerned about the walks and some mistakes in the field.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but I think a lot of teams make mistakes their first time out on the field,” Sather said. “We’re glad we won, but we’re not happy. In the future, there’s going to be games that are going to be one-run games and the team that makes those mistakes is going to be the team that doesn’t win.
Superior (1-0) is next scheduled to play at Esko at 2 p.m. Friday.
Cloquet (1-0) is scheduled to play Duluth East at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Duluth.