NORTH MANKATO – St. Peter sophomore Shelby Paul led off the top of the 10th inning with a shot to center field that nearly went for a home run, bouncing off the temporary fencing's mesh netting and staying in play for a double. Fellow sophomore Olivia Stevens followed with a single to score Paul, sparking the Saints' four-run outburst en route to a 5-2 victory over No. 2 seed Annandale.
The underclassmen's efforts helped clinch a graduation gift for the team's six seniors with a berth into the program's first state championship game.
Annandale (22-4) loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th and scored when a single by Jennah Groth brought in Bree Seagraves. But a strikeout by Saints sophomore pitcher Mackenzie Brey and a double play secured the victory. Brey pitched a complete game, scattering six hits and striking out eight.
With caps and gowns on the team bus, St. Peter (21-5) left Caswell Park to watch their teammates graduate at their school 13 miles away.
"That was amazing. We pulled it through," Paul said. "We just wanted to go out there and play our game and hit the ball like we normally do."
Maple Lake 12, Pipestone Area 3: Sophomore Calli Maki hit a grand slam in the third inning to propel the No. 1 Irish (27-1) over the Arrows (23-3) and back to the state title game. Maki threw a complete game, giving up six hits and striking out eight.