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2024 Softball State Tournament: Day 1 Recap

Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2024 - 10:13 PM


Sixteen teams posted opening-round victories during Day 1 of the Minnesota State High School League’s Softball State Tournament on Wednesday, June 5, at Caswell Park in North Mankato. This is the first season of a three-day tournament for the annual event. 

Championship semifinals, consolation semifinals and the consolation finals in the four enrollment classes are scheduled for Thursday. Friday’s concluding day features third-place games and championships.

Here is a review of the quarterfinals and a preview of the semifinal matchups: 

Class A

Two upsets by unseeded teams brought a long day and night of softball to a close. 

Unseeded Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, the Section 6A champion, erupted for seven runs in the top of the seventh inning en route to a stunning upset of No. 2 Red Lake Falls. Eighth-grade designated player Sadie Wright was 2 for 4 with three runs batted in, including a two-run single in the seventh. 

On nearby Field 4, West Lutheran, following a 48-minute weather delay, stared at a two-run deficit to No. 3 Blooming Prairie with just two full innings to play. When play resumed, the Warriors wasted little time. West Lutheran erupted for nine unanswered runs --- five in the sixth and four more in the seventh --- to race past Blooming Prairie in the Class A quarterfinals. Ninth-grade shortstop Kailey Opitz tied a single-game state tournament record with seven runs batted in to power the late surge. Sophomore pitcher Eleanor Rolf was 5 for 5 and senior third baseman Madeline Tusler was 4 for 4 with two RBIs in West Lutheran's 17-hit output. Opitz's feat equals the mark of seven RBIs in a single game set by Ellyn Buelke of Kenyon-Wanamingo in 2014. 

Both teams will be seeking their first berths in a state championship game when they meet in the lower-bracket semifinal. 

Top-seeded New Ulm Cathedral recorded an 8-1 victory over Kelliher/Northome behind a 2-for-3 performance and two RBIs from senior center fielder Jenna Hotovec. The Greyhounds will now face No. 4 Russell-Tyler-Ruthton in the semifinals. R-T-R rolled to a 10-0 victory over Moose Lake/Willow River in five innings. Ninth-grade second baseman Paisley Thooft was 2 for 2 with three runs batted in.

New Ulm Cathedral has won seven Class A crowns, its most recent in 2014. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton is making its first state tournament appearance. 

Class AA

Top-seeded Randolph, playing its first season in Class AA, sidestepped an upset with a three-run fourth inning that was enough to get past Glencoe-Silver Lake in the quarterfinals. Junior pitcher Carter Raymond delivered the highlight of the inning with a two-run single. Senior Lydia Simons had three hits for Glencoe-Silver Lake. 

The Rockets, the Class A champion in 2021, move on to play No. 5 St. Agnes in the semifinals on Thursday. St. Agnes used the dominance of sophomore Angela Proper to record a 5-0 victory over No. 4 Proctor. She was 4 for 4 with two runs batted in on the offensive side and then limited Proctor to three hits while striking out eight. 

St. Agnes is seeking its first state championship game appearance since 1983 when it was the Class A runner-up. 

In the lower bracket, No. 2 Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial raced to a 7-1 victory over Dassel-Cokato behind two runs batted in from senior first baseman Rilee Pennert and two hits each from senior pitcher Avery Voges and senior third baseman Ella Voges. The Knights advance to play St. Cloud Cathedral for the second time this season. On May 3, Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial 3-1. 

St. Cloud Cathedral advanced with a 2-1 victory over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, the defending Class AA champion. Senior pitcher Ella Voit had seven strikeouts while freshman designated hitter Kyah Koenigh and sophomore first baseman Samantha Dingmann each had an RBI. 

Both Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial and St. Cloud Cathedral are seeking a berth in a softball championship game for the first time. 

Class AAA

Top-seeded Cretin-Derham Hall advanced to the semifinals with an 8-0 victory over Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the quarterfinals. Senior center fielder Samantha Haider and junior first baseman Kaiya Anderson had two runs batted in each to propel the Raiders. In the other upper bracket quarterfinals, No. 5 St. Francis recorded a 6-2 victory over No. 4 Rocori. Sophomore pitcher Sydney Borchert was 2 for 4 with two runs batted in for the Saints.

Cretin-Derham Hall was last in a softball championship game in 1991 when the Raiders finished as the Class AA runner-up. St. Francis is making its third state tournament trip, but first since 1983. 

In the lower bracket semifinal, familiar foes will meet again. 

No. 2 Winona used a 6-1 victory over Simley to advance to the semifinals. Senior left fielder McKenzi Simmons hit two three-run home runs to power the Winhawks. Her six RBIs were one short of the individual state record of seven set by Kenyon-Wanamingo's Ellyn Buelke in 2014. In the other quarterfinal, No. 3 Mankato East, the defending Class AAA champion, raced to a 16-2 victory over North Branch Area in five innings. Senior Hailey Petzel hit a two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the first inning to ignite the Cougars. 

During a Big 9 Conference game on April 23, Winona posted a 5-4 victory over Mankato East. Mankato East has a storied history at the softball state tournament. In six previous state championship game appearances, the Cougars have finished with a title. Winona has been on a surge of its own. The Winhawks won the Class AAA championship in 2017 and were the runners-up in 2016, 2021 and 2023.

Class AAAA

Top-seeded Rosemount needed extra playing time to turn away an upset bid from Stillwater in the quarterfinals. 

Senior catcher Grace Nosan hit an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Irish to an 8-7 victory. Earlier, teammate Kayla Bartol, a senior left fielder, had a grand slam in a seven-run second inning that staked the Irish to a 7-1 lead. But Stillwater surged late with four runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth to force extra playing time. Junior shortstop Ava Volkmann was 3 for 4 with a home run for the Ponies and junior Maya Schroeder was 2 for 4 with a homer

Rosemount faces No. 4 New Prague in the semifinals with a berth in the big-school championship game at stake. New Prague advances with a 5-1 victory over No. 5 St. Michael-Albertville. Sophomore second baseman Lenna Britten was 3 for 4 with a run scored. The Trojans are on a six-game winning streak and looking to play in a title game for the first time. 

Rosemount is a four-time softball state champion. 

In the lower bracket, No. 2 Forest Lake had a 5-1 victory over Eden Prairie and No. 3 Rogers blanked Edina, 7-0. Junior outfielder Ava Stenglein was 2 for 3 with three runs batted in for Forest Lake. In Rogers’ victory, senior shortstop Lauren Freeberg was 3 for 4 with two runs scored. Eighth-grade pitcher AnnaBelle Waldoch had three hits at the plate, and in the circle, surrendered just two hits and struck out 11. 

Forest Lake is seeking a fourth consecutive trip to the state championship game. The Rangers were the Class AAAA champs in 2022 with runner-up finishes sandwiched around that crown. Rogers is making its first state tournament trip since 2005. 

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