Huskies fastpitch takes the long road to state

Prior to this season, the St. Anthony Village High School fastpitch softball team had been to the state tournament six times, all under current head coach Lamar Brendemuehl. In winning those six section titles, not once had the Huskies needed to win twice in the finals to get it done.

That changed last week as St. Anthony achieved a program first by winning back-to-back games in the final to win its seventh Section 4AA title.

“I told them, ‘We’ve never done it this way before, so make history,’” Brendemuehl said. “And they did.”

Senior Rosie Robberstad drove in the section-clinching run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh to give St. Anthony a 2-1, walk-off victory over Visitation.

“I’m really glad we pulled it together and beat this team,” Robberstad said.

Robberstad drove in senior Emma Bradt, who led off the inning by reaching on an error by Visitation right fielder Sarah Otto. Bradt wound up on third after senior Maija Beguhl grounded a ball off third baseman Andrea Feltz. Following an intentional walk to senior Kelly Lawson to load the bases, Robberstad lifted a ball to shallow left field. Ingrid Crabbe made a diving catch for the second out but Bradt beat the throw to home plate to score the winning run.

A loss to Visitation in the fourth round back on May 20 forced St. Anthony into the situation where it needed to win three consecutive games to reach the state tournament. The Huskies got that started with a 2-1 win over Minnehaha Academy on May 23 to set up the section final.

Game one of the final on May 27 went to St. Anthony, which beat Visitation 4-1. Robberstad had two extra-base hits, including a home run, in that game.

“I love hitting the game-winning run,” Robberstad said. “It’s happened a couple of times this season and it’s always the same thrill.”

In game two last Thursday, St. Anthony never trailed but wasn’t able to get as nice of a cushion as it had in game one. The Huskies opened the scoring with a run in the second inning as Robberstad led off with a double and scored on an error.

Senior starting pitcher Kelly Tappe kept the Blazers scoreless until the sixth when she gave up a single, a passed ball, a wild pitch and a double. Senior Courtney Norlien relieved Tappe following the double and got the next two hitters on a strikeout and a pop-up to second base.

“I thought the pitchers really battled today,” Brendemuehl said. “They got into a few jams and they got out of a few jams.”

Next up for seventh-ranked St. Anthony is its third straight trip to the state tournament. The Huskies play Thursday at 9 a.m. at Caswell Park in North Mankato against Section 2AA champion LeSueur-Henderson. The ninth-ranked Giants beat sixth-ranked Norwood-Young America to win the section title.

Other ranked teams in the tournament include No. 1 Kasson-Mantorville, fifth-ranked Rockford, eighth-ranked and defending champion New Ulm and 10th-ranked Hermantown.

St. Anthony’s second-round tournament game is Thursday at 3 p.m. against either New Ulm or Rockford. If the Huskies make it to Friday’s third round, they would face one of these four teams: Hermantown, Kasson-Mantorville, Hawley or Staples-Motley. Kasson-Mantorville is undefeated while Staples-Motley and Hawley are the only unranked teams in the tournament.

“This group has battled,” Brendemuehl said. “They’ve had their ups and downs but they’ve found a way to come out on top more than they haven’t. I’m proud of them. They’re a special group.”

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.

 

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