State tournament story lines
1. You look familiar: Half of the quarterfinals feature conference matchups — Eden Prairie vs. Wayzata (Lake) and Blaine vs. Champlin Park (Northwest Suburban). When one team from each game is a random draw — Eden Prairie and Blaine — and not seeded, how hard would it be to have a stipulation that teams from the same league can’t meet in the opening round?
2. Three-timers: Lakeville North center fielder Drew Stewart and first baseman Nick Fossey, both seniors, will be participating in their third state tournament of the year. They also were members of the Panthers’ football and basketball teams. Stewart will have played in 10 consecutive state tournaments (three football, four basketball and three baseball). He will play football in college.
1. Same school, different class: Both Mahtomedi and Northfield appeared in the Class 3A state tournament a year ago. The addition of a fourth class this year has dropped the two schools down a notch. No surprise, Mahtomedi (19-5) is seeded No. 1 while Northfield (20-5) is No. 2.
2. Flyers fly high: Little Falls (19-5) is making its first state tournament appearance since 1999. The Flyers halted the nation’s longest winning streak at 58 games when they defeated two-time defending Class 2A champion St. Cloud Cathedral 6-1 on April 26.
1. First trip, first seed: Belle Plaine (23-1), making its first state tournament trip, is the top seed and boasts community roots. Coach Pat Schultz and assistant coaches Matt Schultz are Mike Schultz are all brothers. The Tigers’ third assistant coach is Jason Ladd. All four coaches graduated from the school. Ladd has two sons on the team. Aiden, the Minnesota River Conference player of the year, is a senior catcher while Carsen is a sophomore infielder.
2. Ready for a rematch? Minnehaha Academy (24-3) was the state tournament runner-up a year ago, and returns with top pitchers from that group in senior Jesse Retzlaff (10-1, 0.55 ERA) and junior Justin Evenson (7-2, 1.13) Evenson is also the team’s best hitter. The Redhawks lost to Belle Plaine 9-7 in the second game of the season, and a rematch could be in the works.
1. Bat boy to starter: Derek Scheffler looked on from the Springfield dugout, serving as the team’s batboy, as the Tigers fell to New Life Academy 6-5 in eight innings in the championship game a year ago. He now finds himself at second base, hitting .417 as the first eighth grader to start in Bob Fink’s 15 seasons as the school’s mentor.
2. Adrian ace extraordinaire: Adrian senior pitcher Logan Rogers is 7-1 on the season with five saves and a 0.26 ERA. He has two no-hitters, two one-hitters and two two-hitters. A year ago, Rogers went 9-0 with five saves. He has four no-hitters in his career.