Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka and St. Cloud Area scored season lows in runs scored Saturday, but both adapted softball programs repeated as state champions.
The Robins beat Anoka-Hennepin 4-1 in the physically impaired (PI) division while St. Cloud edged Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee 8-6 in extra innings in the cognitively impaired (CI) division.
“If you told me we were going to score four runs, I’d have said, ‘We’re taking home the other trophy,’ ” Robins coach Marcus Onsum said.
Instead, the Robins (10-0) grabbed their usual hardware at Coon Rapids High School. They won an eighth adapted softball title since 2009 thanks to clutch hitting and strong defense.
Anoka-Hennepin grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, recording three hits and a Garmen Neal run. But the Mustangs never managed more than one hit in an inning for the remainder.
The Robins, meanwhile, scored all their runs in the third inning. With two outs, they pounded out five consecutive hits and brought four runners home: Marcus Brady, Vincent Luu, Izear Joiner and Brendan Bosker-Elliott.
“We’ve got kids who believe that if you hit enough ground balls, sooner or later you’re going to get a bounce your way and make things happen,” Onsum said.
Defense protected the lead. Luu, a junior shortstop, ended the final two innings. He fired a long throw to first to get the Anoka-Hennepin batter in the sixth then turned a double-play in the seventh inning to clinch the title.
“I just reached out and caught it and threw to first,” Luu said. “I was amazed. I was shocked and surprised.”
Onsum, however, has seen Luu’s wizardry all season.
“Vincent is as good as they get,” Onsum said. “I was joking with him earlier that sometimes I feel like he lives in the Matrix. He can see things happening before they get to him and he knows what to do.”
CI division champion St. Cloud (13-0), which scored at least 10 runs in its first 11 games, showed its offensive might early. The Sluggers’ first five batters scored in the first inning, highlighted by freshman Nick Goff’s three-run homer.
The Southern Stars kept pursuit, tying the score 6-6 in the sixth inning. Junior Tyler Johnson carried his team, going 4-for-4 at the plate with two runs and an RBI. The shortstop recorded all three putouts in the third inning.
St. Cloud, its offense uncharacteristically silent in four straight innings, got hot in the extra frame. Four consecutive straight hits, capped by Tyler White’s two-run single, gave the Sluggers an 8-6 lead.
“They gave us a run for our money, that’s for sure,” White said. “But we had teamwork and we made it through the game.”
The Sluggers put the Southern Stars down in order for the title.
“We had to eliminate the errors,” coach Mike Bakken said. “We played some defense at the end to win.”