With the Class 3A championship game against Big 9 Conference rival Winona tied 3-3 and facing a lengthy rain delay, the Mankato West team spent its down time … practicing? No.
Talking softball? Nope.
Starting pitcher Lexi Schoper went home and took a nap. Center fielder Briggs Carlson and four other teammates migrated to catcher Hannah Hastings’ house to watch a movie.
Clearly, the Scarlets were plenty relaxed.
It paid off when the game resumed. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Carlson, who admitted to struggling at the plate in the first two games of the tournament, drilled a one-out single to left, went to second on an error, took third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly for a 4-3 lead.
That run was all the Scarlets would need as Schoper slammed the door, giving them their second state championship and first since 1990.
“The nap energized me,” Schoper said. “I think the break energized all of us. We were able to regroup.”
Winona, which had lost to Mankato West 2-1 during the regular season, had wrested momentum before the rain delay, rallying from 3-0 deficit to tie the score 3-3.
“We had built a little momentum and we weren’t able to get it back,” junior pitcher Ashton Hoeppner said. “But Mankato West is a great team. You have to hand it to them.”
Carlson, a sophomore, said her 3-for-3 day at the plate came a just the right time.
“This feels really great, particularly since I hadn’t hit well in the tournament,” she said. “It was a long day and I’m a little tired, but it was worth it.”