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2024 Softball State Tournament: Class AAA Championship

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2024 - 3:05 PM


Mankato East’s reign as the Class AAA softball champion was on the verge of ending on Friday, June 7. The Cougars’ run total in the championship game had been stuck on zero, and with a deficit staring at them and three outs representing the end of the season, prospects of a comeback might have seemed dim. 

But those three outs didn’t come until plenty of softball theater preceded them. 

No. 3-seeded Mankato East erupted for six runs in the top of the seventh inning to turn a potential runner-up finish into a stunning 6-1 victory over top-seeded Cretin-Derham Hall in the Class AAA championship game at Caswell Park in North Mankato. The championship is the second time the Cougars (20-6) have won consecutive titles. The other was in 1988 and 1989. It is the sixth championship overall in the school’s rich history of softball success. 

Senior first baseman Hailey Petzel ignited the dramatic turnaround with a leadoff home run to center field to tie the score. Five more runs followed in a variety of ways, including squeeze bunts, RBI singles and taking advantage of defensive miscues. Petzel had two hits, and seventh-grader right fielder Kenley Staunton added two as well. 

When the inning ended, Mankato East had dramatically reversed the role and put Cretin-Derham Hall (20-7) in a position to rally themselves. That didn’t materialize for the Raiders, who were seeking their first softball state championship. In 1991, the Raiders were the runner-up in Class AA. 

An inning earlier, Cretin-Derham Hall junior left fielder Audrey Michel put herself in the running for game MVP honors when she swiped a potential home run by Mankato East junior Kylinn Stangl. With a Mankato East runner on base, Stangl set a high fly to left center that looked like it was soaring over the fence. On the run, Michel reached over the fence to make the catch while the section of the fence gave way. Michel alertly threw the ball back into the infield to prevent the runner from advancing. 

Cretin-Derham Hall scored the coveted first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning on an RBI single by eighth-grade right fielder Maddie Mulcahy. She led the Raiders with two hits. 

Third place

St. Francis, the No. 5 seed in the Class AAA field to open the tournament, finished two spots better following an 8-2 victory over No. 2 Winona in the third-place game. Senior third baseman Kara Schwintek and junior catcher Emerson Markas each hit home runs for the Saints (20-6-1). Sophomore pitcher Sydney Borcert contributed nine strikeouts. Junior Cheyenne Goettelman had two hits for Winona (20-6). 

2024 SB Mankato East

Meet Mankato East, the Class AAA softball state champion for 2024.

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2024 Softball State Tournament: Class AA Championship