Kasson-Mantorville coach Jeff Fague had a feeling Friday morning — well, that and a reliable scouting report — and decided that the KoMets would need the bat of junior Laura Kosberg in the Class 2A championship game against Maple Lake.
So he inserted Kosberg, who hadn't played in the two previous games, into the lineup as the designated hitter.
The KoMets defeated Maple Lake 2-1 in 10 innings to win their second consecutive Class 2A championship. Kosberg was the hitting star, making it one of the few times someone other than their fabulous pitcher, Maddie Damon, was the story of the game.
Kosberg hit the first home run of her career to stake the team to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. She also stroked a single to left to drive in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning.
"We have four different types of hitters on our bench, and I thought Laura matched up best with their team," Fague said. "She can hit, but I never expected her to hit like that."
Kosberg didn't know until just before the game started that she would be in the lineup.
"They told me about 10, 15 minutes before the game," she said. "That's OK. I usually do better when I don't have time to think about it."
Kosberg's heroics at the plate, paired with a game from Damon in which she was good but seemed like a mere mortal, were enough to defeat a scrappy Maple Lake team. The Irish (26-3) scratched out six hits off Damon, who had given up just one in the two previous games. Maple Lake also scored the only run she allowed all tournament on a sixth-inning double by Chloe Callahan.
"That's the type of team we are," Maple Lake coach Tim Knudsen. "We'll always keep coming at you."
Damon, who will play at Purdue, told herself before the game that she wasn't going to cry if they won, but she was wiping away tears afterward.
"This is such a different team from last year, but these girls did everything they had to do to win it again," Damon said. "We've had a target on our backs all year, but seeing girls like Laura step up makes it really, really special."