Black jerseys worn by the Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville adapted softball team feature white letters “BC” on the front. It’s supposed to mean Blazing Cats, the combined program’s nickname.
On Saturday, the letters stood for Big Comebacks.
In the cognitively impaired division semifinals at Chanhassen High School, the Blazing Cats trailed 8-1 before rallying to beat Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee 10-9. Then they looked finished as they faced an 11-0 deficit in the title game against South Washington County. But they roared back for an improbable 15-13 victory in eight innings.
“When we were down, I was a little nervous,” junior Abigail Schrick said. “But we kept on striving, and we didn’t give up. We worked as a team, and I’m so proud of everyone. It was such an amazing experience.”
Whether running out infield hits or putting balls just beyond the reach of South Washington County’s strong fielders, the Blazing Cats crossed home plate five times in the sixth and seventh innings.
Schrick and Angel Figueroa scored in each of the two big innings. And Figueroa added three RBI.
Then the defense held the Thunderbolts to just two runs in the final four innings. Dangerous batters Tyler Tinucci (three RBI, four runs scored) and Devon Lanz (three RBI, two runs scored) were retired to start the bottom of the eighth inning.
“They keep surprising me,” Blazing Cats coach Dave Diehl said. “They just never give up.”
The victory gave Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville its first state title since 2013.
The physically impaired division championship game was a rematch of 2016 with the same outcome: the Dakota United Hawks defeated the Rochester Raiders.
Ninth-grader Samuel Gerten drove in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Hawks led 4-0 before Rochester erupted. The Raiders crushed defending champion Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka 13-3 in five innings in the semifinals. And they got the bats going with five runs in the top of the third inning.
Garrison Israelson, Bradley Tischer, Matthew Horsman, Kariya Mohamud and Noah Johnson each drove in a run.
Dakota United regained a 7-5 advantage on runs scored by Charles Schultz, Daniel Sonnenberg and William Davidson. Rochester plated two runs in the seventh inning to draw even.
Needing a run to win, Dakota United got clutch production from the bottom three hitters in the lineup. Davidson, Cooper Chelstrom and pinch-hitter Hailey Douglas each singled.
“We had secret weapons all over,” coach Brett Kosidowski said. “We had kids step up.”
That brought Gerten, the leadoff hitter, to the plate with bases loaded and no outs. A former ground-ball hitter, Gerten added some power to his swings this season.
“I said Sam, ‘What do you want to do?’ ” Kosidowski said. “He says, ‘Hit the ball.’ I said, ‘Go hit the ball.’ ”
Gerten made good on his goal. He drove the ball into center field and brought Davidson home.
“I’m glad that we won,” Gerten said. “It’s exciting.”