NORTH MANKATO – After a one-run loss to Kasson-Mantorville in the 2015 state championship and another defeat in last year's title game to Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Maple Lake's four seniors told themselves a third runner-up finish at the softball state tournament just wouldn't do.
"My word for this season is redemption," senior pitcher Calli Maki said. "We knew we had to show up right away in the first inning."
The Irish took that to heart Friday, scoring six runs in their first at-bat en route to an 11-1 rout of St. Peter in the Class 2A state title game to clinch the program's first championship after four runner-up finishes.
"In four years past we came up short," Maple Lake coach Tim Knudsen said. "The seniors have been in this game three times now so it's special."
Maki scored twice along with fellow senior Linsey Rachel, while classmate Amber Klug went 3-for-4 and tallied two RBI. Sophomore Megan Carlson was 3-for-3 to drive three runs and scored two of her own for Maple Lake (28-1).
Allie McCabe had the only hit for St. Peter (21-6), while Olivia McCabe scored on a wild pitch in front of a raucous crowd that traveled 13 miles to Caswell Park to watch the program play in its first title game.
For the Irish seniors, snaring the state title on Friday caps a senior season in which they also claimed the Class 2A volleyball title.
"It's one of the best feelings ever. Such a great way to go out," Maki said.