Peppers National 16U team wins title at nationals

The program is off to a great start in year one.
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 1:06 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) -The Portolite Peppers National 16U team is making a mark in its first year after taking home a title at the NAFA Northern Nationals.

Mankato Peppers is continuing to grow over the years, and this summer is the first featuring a national team.

Wasting no time making its mark is the 16U group which took first place at nationals featuring over 100 teams.

“This team kind of learned the art of magic. Our last game, the other team was playing on pure adrenaline after we beat them. We had to create our own magic, and I think that’s the story of this team. We are not like the team’s in the cities, the national teams that have kids getting looked at day in and day out by Division I teams. That’s easy to train, it’s harder to train and create your own magic when you aren’t getting those calls every day. This team has learned the art of magic and creating our own magic,” said Megan Christopher, head coach.

The magic really stands out in the championship match-up where pitcher Mariah Anderson struck out ten in the 5-2 victory.

Pair Anderson’s shut-down stuff with a lethal line-up, and it’s not surprising the Peppers went 9-0 on one of the biggest stages despite being in year one.

“We are kind of underdogs, this being Peppers Nationals first year. To show out and beat some big city team’s is kind of our motivation,” said Emily Hacker.

The run to the title also put many players on the map for collegiate scouts which is something playing for a national team will attract and is one of the reasons athletes are enjoying the opportunity available in this area.

“I feel like it’s more like a goal. I want to play for the national team, get some looks from colleges,” said Lydia Banse.

With the national team addition, it’s just another reason Mankato is a hub for the sport.

“I feel really good about the state of softball here just because the past two years in a row, Mankato has won state, either East or West. Just the softball program in Mankato is strong, and I think it’ll be strong for years to come,” said Torii Emery.

Certainly paving the way for more youth players to come through the program.

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