Softball: Kasson-Mantorville back in state title game, Hayfield eliminated
NORTH MANKATO — MiKayla Grant is one of seven players in Kasson-Mantorville's lineup who is new to the big stage.The KoMets' sophomore third baseman, showed no nerves and looked like a state-tournament veteran on Thursday.
NORTH MANKATO — MiKayla Grant is one of seven players in Kasson-Mantorville's lineup who is new to the big stage.
The KoMets' sophomore third baseman, showed no nerves and looked like a state-tournament veteran on Thursday.
Grant made a pair of defensive plays that brought K-M fans to their feet and she hit the ball all over the fields at Caswell Park, helping K-M shut out Milaca and Hermantown to advance to the Class AA state championship game for a third consecutive season.
K-M (26-2) will attempt to defend the state title it won last June at 2 p.m. today against Maple Lake (26-2).
"That was a team victory," K-M coach Jeff Fague said of the KoMets' defense. "Everybody focuses on Maddie, but look at the plays (shortstop) McKenzie Hemann made. (First baseman) Chante Thome had a couple of nice scoops and, of course, MiKayla.
"That, as a pitcher, it gives her so much confidence to know it's not all on her back."
Grant went 2-for-3 with a double in the KoMets' 3-0 state quarterfinal victory against Milaca. She followed that with a two-RBI triple in a 4-0 victory against Hermantown in the state semifinals.
In the opener, she twice charged in from near third base to field bunts and throw batters out. Against Hermantown, she only fielded the ball once, but it was a diving catch on a short pop-up to rob the Hawks' Tess Johnson of a base hit.
"It really gets us going as a team and it fires me up," K-M pitcher Maddie Damon said of the KoMets' strong defense. "I know they have my back. It really keeps you going and when you trust your defense, you can throw different pitches and know they'll make the plays."
The only performance that may have overshadowed hers on Thursday was that of Damon. The senior all-state pitcher threw a 14-strikeout no-hitter against Milaca and was two outs away from a no-hitter against Hermantown. A one-out infield single, which traveled about 20 feet, by Jordyn Thomas was the Hawks only hit of the game.
Damon recorded 27 strikeouts Thursday. Her first of the day was the 1,600th of her career, making her the first pitcher in state history to reach that milestone.
• Hayfield saw its outstanding season come to an end in the Class A state tournament on Thursday. The Vikings lost their opener 7-2 against No. 1-ranked New Life Academy, then fell 9-0 to Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian in a consolation game.
Hayfield, which was making its first state tournament appearance since 1994, ends its season at 21-6.