Totally Awesome: Blossoms win state softball titlePublished 7:08pm Friday, June 7, 2013
NORTH MANKATO — Blooming Prairie was simply awesome Friday.
The Awesome Blossoms came up big in the bottom of the fifth inning to beat New Life Academy 3-1 to claim the Class ‘A’ state softball championship for the first time in school history in Caswell Park in North Mankato Friday.
BP, which was playing in its fourth straight state tournament, trailed 1-0 when seniors Jenna Krell, Shelbi Swenson and Sam Ivers each came up with RBI hits to put the Blossoms (23-3 overall) on top for good.
“I truly believe these girls weren’t going to let us lose this game,” BP head coach Ali Mach said. “If the seniors had any ability to control this, they weren’t going to lose and they made it happen.”
BP’s fifth-inning rally started when Tessa Ivers lined a one out double down the line and BP senior Jenna Krell, who had struck out in her first two at-bats, made a vow to get the game tied.
“I got up there, took a deep breath and I said, ‘I’m going to hit the ball,’” Krell said. “I did and we were able to score Tessa. That really swung the momentum for us and I’m really proud of my team.”
BP’s Sydney Heiber grounded out for the second out of the frame, then Swenson singled in a run and Sam Ivers doubled in another to run to put BP in the driver’s seat.
Swenson, who struck out eight, allowed just one base runner in the last two innings.
BP fell behind 1-0 in the fourth inning when Nicole Johnson singled in a run for NLA as Sam Ivers, BP’s catcher, couldn’t come up with a throw at the plate.
“I could’ve probably had it, but I just didn’t get up quick enough,” Sam Ivers said. “You have to forget about it and keep going.”
The Eagles (18-4 overall) had a chance to add to their lead with a runner on second, but Delaney Nelson made a diving catch at second base to end the inning. BP’s defense also stepped up in the top of the fifth when Sam Ivers caught a popped up bunt and threw to first for a double play.
BP lost last year’s state title game to Cherry by a score of 2-1, so they could’ve started feeling desperate when they fell behind by one run halfway through the game. Instead, they actually gained confidence.
Tessa Ivers said she never had a doubt that her squad would come back.
“We were going to keep going until we had our rally,” she said. “We were going to have a rally.”
Krell said losing simply wasn’t an option this time around.
“I was thinking I’m not going to lose another state championship. We came into the game knowing we had to win and we had the drive to win,” Krell said. “It’s probably one of the greatest days of my life. We’ve been here four times and we’ve done better every year. To get this blue medal is everything. I can’t even explain it.”
The win was a special one for Sam Ivers, who made the switch from outfield to catcher this year. She had her younger sister in center field and she was able to catch for Swenson, who is Sam Ivers’ best friend.
“Tessa and I have both got a championship now and I love playing with Tessa,” Sam Ivers said. “Shelbi is my best friend and it just worked out great.”
BP had three players named to the All-Tournament team — Swenson, who pitched 21 innings, while allowing just three earned runs and striking out 22, Sam Ivers, who went 3-for-9 with a double and an RBI, and junior Sydney Heiber, who went 3-for-9 with a double, an RBI and a walk.
Now that BP has finally gotten over the hump in it’s second straight state title game, the team will have to find some other motivation.
“I don’t know what’s next now,” Mach said. “We’ll have to figure it out. I’ve been very fortunate to have a group of girls who play hard and they’ve earned it. It’s awesome.”
NLA 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 — 1 4 1
BP 0 0 0 0 3 0 X — 3 9 0
BP pitching: Shebli Swenson (W), 7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 8 K
BP hitting: Tessa Ivers, 2-for-4, double, R; Jenna Krell, 1-for-3, RBI, R; Sydney Heiber, 0-for-2, BB; Swenson, 2-for-3, RBI, R; Sam Ivers, 2-for-3, double, RBI; Madison Worke, 0-for-1; Megan O’Connor, 0-for-1; Bria Baldwin, 1-for-3; Mariah Holland, 0-for-2; Lizz Willert, 0-for-1