History Made: Nicollet filled with emotion after claiming Class A crown
NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The Nicollet softball team claimed the Class A crown with an emotional 3-2 victory in extra innings over Moose Lake/Willow River.
“I am incredibly proud. I don’t know if I can be more proud as a coach than I am today. They played as a team. They put the ball in play, they did exactly what they needed to do and mainly they stayed calm. Mentally and emotionally they stayed even kill this entire tournament,” said Raiders nine-year head coach Bri Eldred.
Emotions ran high as Nicollet captured state hardware with seven home grown seniors leading the effort.
“We’ve all been playing since before we started kindergarten pretty much. Nicollet is 11-hundred people, it’s population, and every single one of us has been on the field since we were four or five. I remember me and Haley Selby, number four, we played baseball when were in elementary school, because there weren’t enough kids for a softball team, so it’s crazy. I’ve spent 15 years on the field and it’s just great to end my career with a win you know,” Nicollet senior first baseman Olivia Whitmore said.
The Raiders dominated the competition en route to the Class A title game, outscoring opponents 237-24. But, the Rebels came in with their fair share of big wins and took a one-run lead into the third inning.
“It’s again that mindset of it’s just a game. It’s like any other game we’ve had during the season, make sure you continue on with that mindset. Don’t let this big game get in the way of what you want to do,” Eldred said on Nicollet’s mentality when trailing the Rebels in the championship.
The winning mentality shined though in the biggest moments, such as Marah Hulke’s game-tying RBI in the third, and once again coming back to force extras to finish the job.
With so much on the line, Nicollet leaned on experience and depth when seniors Hayley Selby and Hulke split time on the rubber.
“My goal was just to give an even ball game and let Marah do the rest and I just knew that our team had our backs. They’ve had our backs the entire season bringing a lot of hits, I knew the defense had my back too, so I was just confident coming into the game and I just wanted to show everyone what Nicollet’s about,” Raiders senior utility Selby said.
Selby and company put on a show for the Raider faithful all year long, ending the 24-2 season on top.
“We can’t say enough to our community. We had so many people in the stands they were packed, all the way down the first base line it was packed. I’m sure there will be even more people back at school, so just a huge thank you, we couldn’t do it without the community support, it means a lot to our team,” said Hulke.
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