Standing 5-feet tall (on a good day), Eastview's Ariana Hipolito doesn't pose much of a threat in the softball batter's box. Rightfully so, defenses tend to play in when the short lefty is up to bat.

That was Hermantown's plan last Friday night with the bases loaded against the Lightning, and Hipolito made the Hawks pay.

She ripped a hit to the fence, easily scooting into third with a bases-clearing triple. A botched cutoff allowed the senior to complete the inside-the-park grand slam.

Against Rosemount earlier last week, Hipolito hit the game-winning RBI with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat the Irish.

"She always does something, producing for us some way, somehow," coach Nicole Newton said. "She doesn't know how to give up.

Hipolito, the only true lefthander in the lineup, entered this week hitting .488 for the season mostly thanks to slap-hits.

"But every so often she creams the ball," Newton said. "It's a real benefit for us. You never really know what she's going to do up there."

Sad for the kids, happy for family guy

Jim Jackson has been part of all 20 state championships as either an assistant or head coach with Apple Valley wrestling. In the likely event there are more to come, Jackson will watch from afar.

Saying it's time to spend more time with his family, Jackson announced his retirement last week after compiling a 619-26-3 record as head coach, the highest winning percentage in Minnesota history.

Jackson, 55, will continue to teach physical education at Falcon Ridge Middle School in Apple Valley.

"I keep saying this is a sad day," Eagles Athletic Director Pete Buesgens said. "I'm sad for our program and I'm sad for our kids. But I am happy for him."

Jackson insists his coaching days are over for good, though he did say he likely would have input on selecting a new coach.

Buesgens said the search begins immediately and that he expects a significant pool of applicants before the May 25 deadline.

"I said to our principal, 'Who would want this job? Where to you go from here?'" Buesgens said jokingly. "But I know it will be appealing. Whether that person is on staff right now or outwards, it will be a great opportunity."