NORTH MANKATO — Veronica Sinell hopes she can say she was there at the start of something big.
Moments after the Le Sueur-Henderson softball team lost to No. 1 Kasson-Mantorville in the Class AA state championship game at Caswell Park, Sinell, one of just two seniors on the roster, said there would be more to come.
“I definitely think they’re going to be back next year for sure, maybe the next two or three years,” she said after the 3-0 loss. “I think this was the start of a new era for Le Sueur softball. We were always so close, and we finally made it.”
Playing at state for the first time in school history, the Giants made it to the final where they met the state’s best team and likely its best pitcher.
KoMets junior Maddie Damon allowed just one hit — Sinell’s leadoff bunt single to start the game — to finish off the team’s undefeated season (28-0).
Damon, who has verbally committed to play Division I softball at Purdue University, had 11 strikeouts (33 for the tournament), increasing her state-record career total to 1,260. Between her two walks, she retired 17 batters in a row.
“She’s definitely one of the best we’ve faced all season,” Sinell said.
The KoMets can hit the ball, too, and they had seven hits off Giants sophomore Carlie Brandt. Run-scoring doubles by Damon in the second inning and Cori Kennedy in the third put them up 2-0. They added an unearned run in the fifth.
“If they’re not (the best team in LSH has faced), they’re awfully close. I’d say so,” Giants coach Eric Lewis faced. “(Damon) doesn’t leave a lot for you to hit. I thought we had some good swings, and I thought we battled well.
“Their hitting lineup has a lot of tough outs, too. Some teams have holes in their lineup somewhere, but they don’t have too many holes.”