The symmetry was undeniable.
The Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka adapted softball team led off Saturday’s state championship game with five runs — one for each of its five consecutive state titles.
A scorching start against Dakota United produced a sixth straight crown in the PI Division (physically impaired). The 8-3 victory cemented the Robins’ seventh championship in the past eight seasons.
South Washington County captured its first CI Division (cognitively impaired) since 2006 in similar fashion. The Thunderbolts (14-1) scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning en route to a 12-2 blowout of Dakota United (10-5) in five innings. Both games were played at Coon Rapids High School.
Robbinsdale coach Marcus Onsum encouraged the top of his lineup to start fast and “give ourselves a mental edge” against Dakota United. The Robins (14-0) beat the Hawks (11-1) in the title game last year. Saturday’s victory moved the Robins to 3-2 all-time in championship games against Dakota United.
The first six batters reached. Chaun Johnson, Cory Tesch, Casey Balint, Tyler Sarff and Jordan Klein scored the runs. A bases-loaded single from Joe Dubisar brought the final three runs home. “It helped us have a cushion,” Dubisar said.
The defense heeded the second part of Onsum’s game plan and did not relinquish the lead. Dakota United went scoreless until the sixth inning. The Robins got out of bases-loaded jams by twice getting force outs at home.
“That was about as sharp as we’ve been in the field in quite a while,” Onsum said. “As good as our bats are, our defense has really driven our success this year.”
A brief goodwill exchange Saturday between players from South Washington County and Dakota United helped set a tone for the victor.
“Our player said, ‘Good luck today,’ and their player said, ‘I don’t care if we win or lose, I’m just happy to be here,’ ” Thunderbolts coach John Culbertson said. “Our player came into our meeting and said, ‘This is our time.’ ”
Lucas Fiedler, Amanda Henderson, Tristan Rankin, Lucas Coy and Dylan Kubitschek each scored in the bottom of the first. The Thunderbolts also bunched up runs in the third (four runs) and fourth innings (three).
“As soon as we got some runs, we settled down,” said Kubitschek, who finished with four RBI and scored twice. Coy contributed three RBI and three runs.
“Those two have been the studs,” Culbertson said.
They were the hottest hitters on a team with high hopes. Culbertson said players took their lumps three or four years ago but stayed together and kept improving. A third-place finish in the adapted soccer state tournament last fall proved to players they were nearing the top.
The Thunderbolts began Saturday with an important semifinal victory against South Suburban.
“We got beat pretty bad by South Suburban last year, so when we beat them, we knew we had a shot to win this,” Kubitschek said.