NORTH MANKATO, MINN. - Brittany Hoffmann tried to block it out. But the sting from not coming through in the clutch earlier in the Class 2A softball tournament still throbbed inside the New Ulm junior.
The short ride home Friday came with no such feeling. A championship medal was the elixir.
Hoffmann made a diving catch in center field in the top of the seventh inning against St. Anthony Village, then clubbed a three-run homer off the left fielder's glove as part of a huge eighth inning to clinch a 9-5 victory in the championship game.
This was New Ulm's first trip to state since finishing runner-up in 1997, and the Eagles' first state championship.
"I'm kind of speechless," Hoffmann said after she was mobbed by teammates and coaches after the final out at Caswell Park. "I was nervous coming up to bat after they intentionally walked Kelsey [Kannegiesser] to get to me because I didn't get it done when that happened [Thursday]. But I knew this was our last go and I had to give it my all."
The victory was New Ulm's second extra-inning finish of the three-game tournament. The Eagles (23-2) won their semifinal game -- on a walk-off double.
"They came out like rock stars," coach Kristi Andersen Loose said. "It wouldn't have been a state championship if it happened any other way. You can't teach clutch."