By Jim Rueda
NORTH MANKATO — Lakeville South’s ‘Comeback Kids’ pulled off another one Friday, rallying from a 2-0 deficit against second-ranked Maple Grove to earn a 3-2 victory and win the Class AAA state softball championship at Caswell Park.
The Cougars, who had to come from behind in numerous games this season, never panicked on Friday, even when facing all-state pitcher Sydney Smith and behind by a couple of runs after 3 1/2 innings.
“I never thought we were in trouble,” Lakeville South pitcher Kylie Stober said. “We’ve come back all year long. I believe in this team and in my teammates. I knew we could do it.”
It was not only Lakeville South’s first state championship, it was the team’s first appearance in the state tournament in the nine-year existence of the school. Stober admitted there were some tournament jitters at the start.
“In our very first game against Orono we were kind of quiet for a few innings and that’s not like us,” she said. “But coach (Rob) Laden did a good job of settling us down and settling me down. After that we were fine.”
For awhile it appeared as if Maple Grove was going win the championship. With two outs in the top of the third, the Crimson’s Samantha Sadler walked and moved to second on a base hit by Smith. Future Minnesota State player Jordan Mauch then lined a double to right field that skidded past the outfielder to knock in two runs.
The Cougars began to chip away at the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Stober ripped a leadoff single to right and was sacrificed to second by Jenna Uphoff. After Michaela Thielen walked, Amanda Blomquist reached on a throwing error as a run scored.