NORTH MANKATO, MINN. - Stillwater came to Caswell Park with the dubious honor of the most losses -- eight -- among Class 3A state tournament teams. It left the parking lot Friday evening as the only one with the coveted championship hardware.
After surviving out of the loser's bracket in their section tournament last week, the Ponies heated up at the right time and rode the momentum all the way to Friday's 6-2 Class 3A championship game victory over Maple Grove (24-3).
"They've been real, real resilient and this group really started to believe in itself a couple of weeks ago," coach Bob Beedle said. "And kept on rolling."
Stillwater (21-8) needed 11 innings to come back and defeat Mankato East 6-2 in the semifinals but jumped out on the Crimson early and never looked back.
Senior Allison Eder-Zdechlik roped a two-run double down the right field line in the second inning for the biggest hit of the game.
"We proved to everyone that this is a team that can do something like this," she said, tears welling up in her eyes. "I'm so proud of my teammates. We improved so much. This is a dream come true."
Danielle Wigen went 2-for-2 with three run scored.
Junior Hannah Heacox, who threw a no-hitter in the quarterfinals, allowed eight hits but got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.
"At that point, I knew we were in good shape," Beedle said.