John’s Journal: After Two Years, Adapted Softball Comes Back Smiling
First State Tournament Since 2019 Leaves Everyone Happy
Posted: Saturday, June 4, 2022 - 6:50 PM
Fun. Exciting. Thrilling. Downright normal.
There are several ways to describe what took place at Chanhassen High School on Friday and Saturday during the MSHSL adapted softball state tournament. With teams competing in PI (Physically Impaired) and CI (Cognitively Impaired) divisions, the competition was fierce and in the end champions were decided.
But there was so much more. There was camaraderie between teammates and opponents. The smiles. The effort, the all-out sprints around the bases as spectators cheered.
It was normal. Just absolutely normal. And that was everything, since there was no adapted softball season at all in 2020 and a year ago teams played regular-season games but no postseason was conducted.
“We're super excited to get back here,” said Dakota United PI coach Brett Kosidowski, whose team defeated Anoka-Hennepin 19-6 in the title game. “Honestly, it was awesome.”
Two fields were created inside the massive Chanhassen gymnasium, with a third field down the hall in an auxiliary gym. In the main gym, fans watched from bleachers, chairs or from up above on a walking/running track that circles the space.
Dakota United won the last PI state title in 2019, and had what Kosidowski described as “an arsenal of kids ready to come back and defend our title before COVID hit. So it was unfortunate when that happened. But we stayed together as a team over Zoom, things like that. … And that's what we've been really working on over the last couple of years, is just making sure we stay as a unit. Keep that unity going.”
Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville won the CI division championship by defeating New Prague 11-1. New Prague coach Michele Kriha said getting the team back in competitive shape was not a simple task.
“You have to do a lot of re-teaching of goals and roles and teamwork,” she said. “They haven't been a team in two years; who's going to play what? This is a real high school sport again, and we want to get back into things. So it's been difficult but the resilience was there.
“It's been fantastic. It's been a great, great, great bunch of kids. This is an amazing program for them. It's nice to be back full time.”
Dakota United PI pitcher Indigo Jaworski said Saturday’s championship “feels amazing, especially since it's my senior year. I've already graduated so it's just one thing from my childhood that's complete and I went out with a bang.”
Anoka-Hennepin PI coach Pete Kutches said of the season, as well as the postseason, “It's been outstanding. I think just bringing back those little nuances like just a simple thing of getting handshakes back and getting the kids out in the field, and competing and just being together and even just practicing. It's been great. You just don't realize how much you miss this environment until it's not here for a couple of years. That's what we've all learned."
Indigo wrapped up the weekend perfectly when he said, “It’s pretty fantastic to finish out by doing this again.”
Hugs. Handshakes. Trophies. Medals. Team photos.
But most of all, smiles.
--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org