St. Cloud Cathedral vs. Albany

5 p.m., Thursday, April 25

Albany won the Granite Ridge Conference crown last year, but it was St. Cloud Cathedral that sampled success in the postseason. The Crusaders won the Class 2A, Section 6 title to earn a bid to the state tournament, where their season concluded with a 6-2 defeat to Duluth Marshall in the quarterfinals.

The Crusaders (3-0, 1-0) want more than a taste this season, and they’ve had the start to prove it. St. Cloud Cathedral defeated defending Class 2A champion Maple Lake 6-5 win on April 5 and haven't experienced a letdown since, winning its next two games by a combined score of 20-7.

Sophomore Jon Bell has been swinging a terrific bat for the Crusaders, hitting 7-for-11 with three RBI and a .636 BA. During the stretch, he has laced a pair of triples, stolen two bases and threw five innings in a 10-5 win against Orono on April 6.

So far so good for Albany (2-0, 1-0), which has its work cut out if it wants to repeat as league champion and win the section to earn a trip to state.

The Huskies have yet to surrender more than two runs in a game and are coming off a 10-1 victory on April 9 over Little Falls. Senior Nolan Sand pitched five innings in the win, surrendering three hits and one earned run, while his teammates scraped together 11 hits.

In three contests last year — two in the regular season and one in the section playoffs — St. Cloud Cathedral claimed two, including a 4-3 win in section play.