MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The Mankato West softball team is heading to state.
The Scarlets recently punched their ticket after beating New Ulm in the section championship last Thursday night.
In what seemed like a one–sided contest with the Eagles leading 5–0, West impressed the crowd to take the game 8–5.
“I can’t say enough about my team, you know being down against a good New Ulm team, being down 5 and then coming back and just showing a lot of grit, showing a lot of character, determination. They’re just athletes, they fight to the end and they showed it today,” Don Krusemark, Mankato West’s head coach, said.
“We had confidence the whole time and despite that being down in a big hole, we dug our way back up like we have all season and we never gave up so I think it was really good to win that one,” Kenzie Grunst, Mankato West senior infielder, said.
The Scarlets found a way to pick each other up while in the dugout.
“We kind of brought back the old cheers, which was kind of cheesy but you’ve got to do what is takes to get yourselves pumped up and I think one hit just lit the spark. Madi started us off and then we hit top to bottom and we were golden from there,” Kenzie Grunst, said.
“We just knew we had to get energy, we didn’t start off with very much energy but once we started doing cheers and then everything just kept going our way,” Kayla Grunst, Mankato West pitcher, said.
The team has put a great amount of time and dedication into their craft to get them to this point in the season.
“A lot of repetitive drills at practice, focusing on what we can control, playing really good defense has helped us a lot to get through a lot of games in sections and just trusting in each other, knowing that the hitter in front of us will get the hit and the person to the left of us will make the play in the field, so I think just trusting in each other and playing like we can,” Kenzie Grunst, said.
“Yeah, it’s taken a lot of hard work, we always work hard at practice and we take stuff seriously when we need to and we also have a lot of fun,” Kayla Grunst, said.
“We had a lot of hard work and we never got down, for example today, we came back up, we always come back when we’re down,” Abbi Stierlen, Mankato West infielder, said.
“This is not a three–month deal, for a lot of these girls it’s a year–round deal so it is a ton of work, they work hard every day. Not only on the practice field but in the weight room. They just come to work and it’s a great group to be with,” Krusemark said.
The team is celebrating the accomplishment but they are also ready to put their heads down and prepare for the upcoming state tournament.
“I think a lot of it will be mental, some of us have already been there so we know what it’s like and we just need to obviously physically prepare but also mentally prepare because it is a very big stage with lots of people, lots of eyes on you. I think just doing what we can and going there and playing confidently and ending our season on a high note,” Kenzie Grunst, said.
“We’re not going to do a whole lot different, what we’ve been doing has gotten us this far so we’re not going to do a whole lot different. We’re going to take a couple days off here and try to get our minds right and then come back on Monday and have three good practices and then get ready for the state tournament and being able to play in front of big crowds, it’s a dream come true,” Krusemark, said.
The squad won’t have to travel far next week, the state tournament takes place at Caswell Park June 6th and 7th.