Tyler Kurkowski, right, was an ace with his pitching and defense for Anoka-Hennepin during the PI softball final against Dakota United.
Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune
Anoka-Hennepin wins, extends run of titles to eight
- Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE
- Star Tribune
- June 3, 2012 - 8:11 AM
The Anoka-Hennepin adapted softball team broke the huddle before Saturday's state championship game with a chant of "1-2-3, victory!"
When it comes to quantifying their dominance, the Mustangs must count higher.
A 7-2 victory over Dakota United brought the Mustangs a third CI (cognitively impaired) Division state softball championship. Add soccer and floor hockey and Anoka-Hennepin won its eighth consecutive team title overall. The Mustangs have not lost a game in any sport since November 2009.
Also taking home a familiar trophy from Saturday's games at the Coon Rapids High School gymnasium was PI (physically impaired) Division state champion Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka. The Robins topped Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville 9-2 to win their fourth consecutive softball championship.
State titles in soccer and floor hockey earlier this season mean the Robins have captured 11 of the past 12 PI Division team titles.
Anoka-Hennepin (12-0) used stifling defense to stop previously undefeated Dakota United. The Mustangs turned two double plays and right fielder Cole Denny made a sliding catch to end the third inning. Dakota United only got six players on base through the first six innings and did not score until the seventh and final inning.
"They were lights out today," Mustangs coach Ted Johnson said. "You watch them and you think, 'There's no way they can get to that ball,' and then they are there."
Pitcher Tyler Kurkowski and shortstop Zach Theroux ended decorated prep careers in style, combining for three doubles, three runs scored and two RBI. Kurkowski also caught a ball that deflected off the speakers above him in the fifth inning and snared a line drive in the sixth inning.
"I told everybody on our team that we had to play good defense because there are a lot of good teams in the tournament," Kurkowski said.
Johnson reluctantly bids farewell to the most dynamic duo in adapted athletics.
"I've coached three seasons a year since 1984 and I've never seen two players that can match them," Johnson said. "We're going to miss them but the run we had with them was a blast."
Senior leadership was a luxury Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka (10-1) did not have in large supply this season. Two seniors on the roster meant new faces needed time to adjust.
"It's a young and inexperienced group and they had a tendency to make some mental errors and some fielding errors," coach Marcus Onsum said. "There were times during the season where it got the best of them and they got down on themselves."
The Robins found their stride early in the title game, scoring in each of the first three innings and building a 6-0 lead. Junior Charlie Wittmer drove in three runs. Lead-off hitter Rodney Sankawulo scored three.
The upset-minded Rams, which entered the state tournament 4-4, fell to the Robins in the title game for the second consecutive season.
"We won 6-1 last year so we thought if we were close to that score we should do well," Wittmer said.
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