NORTH MANKATO, MINN. -- Bloomington Jefferson's six seniors smiled for the clicking cameras after they helped the Jaguars win the Class 3A consolation championship Friday morning at Caswell Park. The victory signified the end of their careers, and what a hectic last ride it was.
Graduation ceremonies were set for 5 p.m. Thursday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Once Mother Nature toyed with the state softball schedule, it made for a speedy ride back up to the Twin Cities following the Jaguars' opening-round loss.
"So many emotions; we were disappointed but so happy to graduate," catcher Nicole Tobon said.
The six were permitted to attend Jefferson's Class of 2012 all-night party until 11 p.m., then had to be back in North Mankato by 7:30 a.m. Friday to warm up for the Jaguars' consolation semifinal against Farmington.
They won in extra innings, and defeated Forest Lake in the consolation championship game held immediately after.
"A memorable way to finish everything up for us -- and it was worth it," said Tobon, who hit a home run against the Rangers. "We tried to make it all work, and I am happy we were able to bounce back. We gave it everything we had."
Good luck charm
His name is Gandalf. And he's a stick.
New Ulm adopted an unusual dugout pal this season, a 6-foot tall walking stick that comes out to celebrate any time the Eagles hit a home run.
"At the beginning of the season they found this goofy-shaped stick at practice and ever since they had an infatuation with [sticks]," coach Kristi Andersen Loose said. "They were bringing them in, playing music out of them, making goofy noises."
Then junior Liz Guggisberg brought in one of her father's whittled creations: Gandalf.
"We've rallied around the walking stick of Gandalf," Andersen Loose said. "And they think he might be a little magical."
Andersen Loose stuffed an extra championship medal in her pocket after the award ceremony. Just for Gandalf.
Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's Courtney Olson set a state tournament record with eight RBI in the Class 1A bracket games while Farmington's Ashley Betzold tied a record with two homers in the Class 3A consolation semifinals.
Orono, playing in its first big-school state tournament, captured the Class 3A third-place trophy with a 5-2 victory over Mankato East. In Class 2A, Cloquet came from behind twice to defeat Maple River 8-3 for third.
In the Class 1A third-place game, New Ulm Cathedral ran all over four-time defending state champion New Life Academy for a 9-2 victory.
"All the credit to New Ulm, who hit the ball well, but I think we were a little down," Eagles coach Mick Ramey said. "The [semifinal loss] really drained us. We just weren't getting any timely hits like we're used to."
New Life Academy gets every player back from this year.
Joining Bloomington Jefferson with consolation championship plaques were Mound Westonka (8-5 over Albany in Class 2A) and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (7-1 over Red Lake Falls in Class 1A).
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