In 2019, the Eagles softball team lost its first game in the Section AAAA tournament to Minnetonka, leaving them one loss away from the end of their season.
They went on to win six straight games, including back-to-back wins in the championship round over Shakopee to advance to their first State Tournament appearance since 2007.
On the first day of the 2023 tournament, the Eagles repeated the first part of that history, losing 8-7 to Waconia. Once again, the Eagles were a loss away from the end of their season.
Last Thursday, as the Eagles packed up their gear after beating Chanhassen and Minnetonka to move on in the tournament’s loser’s bracket, they knew the day after Memorial Day would require a similar performance.
Tuesday, the Eagles put together what may have been two of their best overall performances of the season, defeating Prior Lake and Bloomington Jefferson to run this year’s section-winning streak to four.
Senior pitcher Kari Welter tossed seven solid innings against the Lakers en route to her 11th win of the season.
Welter allowed three singles in the sixth inning, allowing the Lakers to score their lone run in a 3-1 Eagles win. Otherwise, she shut down Prior Lake while striking out six.
Freshman second baseman Genevieve Streed drove in the first run for the Eagles in the second inning. The Eagles scored two additional runs in the third inning. Senior catcher Grace Streed doubled, and her courtesy runner Lily Liu scored on junior Rose Neuman’s single. Sophomore Maya Miller drove a fly ball deep enough to score junior Ayana Lombardy with the eventual winning run.
Bloomington Jefferson awaited the Eagles after they had lost their first game of the tournament 5-1 to No. 1 seed Shakopee.
The Jaguars got off to a fast start against the Eagles with a two-run home run in the top of the first. But Welter stifled Jaguar hitters with four consecutive 1-2-3 innings before giving up a lone run in the sixth inning.
The Eagles scored twice in the second inning on two Jaguar errors and added two more in the fourth inning following singles by center fielder Miller and Genevieve Streed. Senior Cierra Creager drove in Miller with a sacrifice fly, and Grace Streed, Genevieve’s older sister, drove her in with a double to the right centerfield fence for the eventual winning run.
Welter notched another six strikeouts on the way to the 4-3 win and her 12th of the season.
The Eagles were solid on defense in both the Prior Lake and Jefferson games, with two throw-outs by catcher Streed against Prior Lake and a diving catch in the infield by first baseman Rose Weber in the Jefferson game. The Eagles had just one error in the two games.
With the win, the fourth-seeded Eagles won the loser’s bracket and once again face their 2019 opponent — undefeated Shakopee — Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the tournament championship game at Miller Park in Eden Prairie.
With one loss in the double-elimination tournament, the Eagles need to beat Shakopee twice to advance to the State Tournament in Mankato on June 8-9.
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