Gator Softball captures section crown, advances to state

Mariah Christian releases a pitch in the first inning of the Gator Softball team’s 4-2 victory in the Section 8A Championship game, a feat advancing the program to its ninth state tournament appearance. Christian would scatter seven hits and five walks and strike out five in the win. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Ella Heggedal rips a triple to left field during the third inning of the Gators’ 4-2 Section 8A Championship victory. Heggedal would come around to score on a Makenna Burslie groundout to tie the game at 1-1 at that point. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Kinsley Hanson celebrates after sliding safely into home on a bunt in the sixth inning of the Gator Softball team’s 4-2 victory over the Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal Titans in the Section 8A Championship game in Baudette on May 30. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

The Gator Softball team poses with its Section 8A Championship trophy following its victory over the Titans in Baudette, becoming one of eight Class A teams to battle it out for the state title at Caswell Park in North Mankato, June 6 and 7. The team members pictured are (L-R): Manager Connor Wojchowski, Ada Lee, Measha Troxel, Asher Burslie, Ella Heggedal, Lauren Stenberg, Emma Heggedal, Elizabeth Gust, Jordan Lee and Manager Ashley Benke; Back: Berlyn Burkel, Jacey Wojchowski, Mariah Christian, Cassidy Dahl, Tessany Blazek, Theron Kuznia, Makenna Burslie, Lauren Kvien, Isabella Monsrud, Ella Koebernick, Kinsley Hanson, Ava Novacek, Erika Howell and Sierra Westberg. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning of the first game of the Section 8A Championship, the Gator Softball team would face the possibility of having to play a second game versus the Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal Titans to decide the Section 8A Champion.

The Gators had other plans, rallying for three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 4-2 lead and holding off the Titans in the seventh to capture the Section 8A Championship in Baudette on May 30. Eighth grader Kinsley Hanson keyed this Gator rally with a two-run triple to right field to give the Gators a 3-2 lead. In the next at bat, Hanson slide into home safely ahead of the throw on a Lauren Kvien bunt single, giving the Gators an insurance run and providing for the final margin.

This victory secured not only back-to-back section titles for the Gators, but also the program’s ninth section title and state tournament berth. Coming in on a 13-game winning streak, the Gators (21-4) earned the fifth seed in the Minnesota State High School League Class A State Softball Tournament and will open against the fourth-seeded Section 1A Champion, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (22-0), in the opening round from Caswell Park in North Mankato on June 6 at 1 pm.

For all your Gator Softball postseason coverage, read The Tribune in print or online at page1publications.com. Also, watch for Gator updates from the state tournament on The Tribune’s Facebook page.

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