John’s Journal: “I’ve Got To Pinch Myself”
Wabasha-Kellogg Softball Qualifies For State In Coach’s Final Season
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2022 - 10:03 PM
AUSTIN -- After the final out had been recorded and the Wabasha-Kellogg softball team clinched a second consecutive trip to the Class 1A state tournament, coach Mike Schumacher walked a few steps away from his jubilant players and addressed a handful of parents who had stepped onto the edge of the field.
“Who’s got a good camera?,” he asked. “Make sure to get a nice, centered photo, because it’s going in the state tournament program.”
No matter what happens during next week’s state tournament at Caswell Park in North Mankato, mementoes and memories will be carried for years by everyone associated with the 2022 W-K Falcons softball team. As noted here in John’s Journal a few weeks ago, this is Schumacher’s 42nd and final season as the Falcons coach. He built the program from scratch and now will finish his last season at the state tournament.
Read the previous story here: https://www.mshsl.org/about/news/johns-journal/johns-journal-42-years-softball-memories
“I’ve got to pinch myself to find out if this is real or not,” Schumacher said after the Falcons rallied from an eight-run deficit to win the game in six innings. “Maybe I'm just dreaming.”
The game was part of a four-contest day of Section 1 championship play at Todd Park, a wonderful venue for tournament softball. In the Class 2A final, Chatfield came out of the elimination bracket to defeat Cannon Falls 8-1 and 11-0 to advance to state; in Class 3A, Winona defeated Kasson-Mantorville 4-1; and in Class 4A Lakeville South made it to state by beating Farmington 7-5.
Wabasha-Kellogg’s win over Bethlehem Academy was the most improbable. The Falcons needed to defeat the Cardinals once in order to get to state, while Bethlehem Academy, which advanced to the title round out of the elimination bracket with one loss in the section tournament, had to win twice over the Falcons.
The Cardinals exploded for nine runs in the third inning to take a commanding 10-2 lead, but Wabasha-Kellogg kept plugging away. The Falcons scored 10 times in the fourth to lead 12-10, got seven more in the sixth and wrapped up the win by reaching the 10-run rule point in the bottom of the sixth.
“We just said, ‘We’ve got a lot of at-bats coming up,’ ” Schumacher told the team. “ ‘That happened in the second or third inning, and we had a bad afternoon. So we get five at-bats yet. We can get those runs right back, all we’ve got to do is keep our heads up.’ ”
This is the second time that Wabasha-Kellogg will play at state two years in a row. The Falcons made their first appearance in 2003 and went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007 before last year’s trip.
--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