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NORTH MANKATO, MINN - Coach Stacey Sheetz led Elk River to a state title in 2009 while she was pregnant with her first child. On Friday, she celebrated another Class 3A state championship with her child, Lainey, in her arms and a new addition to the family waiting in the womb.
“I told my husband, ‘Hey, let’s keep doing this,’ ” she joked.
How to explain the coincidence? Sheetz thought her coaching style and perhaps a more lighthearted attitude throughout a pregnancy might be more fitting for success. Or maybe her players are more at ease, Sheetz said. The Elks already are asking their coach for another pregnancy next season.
Sheetz wasn’t the only expecting coach in the tournament. Forest Lake’s Angie Ryan’s due date was June 6. Ryan and Sheetz are close friends and both played at St. Cloud State. The two tried to avoid pregnancy talk during the tournament.
Ryan said a contingency plan was in place if delivery became imminent, but she was able to focus on softball and lead the Rangers to a third-place finish. During the consolation championship awards ceremonies, the announcer said “Maybe [Sheetz] can get two medals, this time.”
Being pitched around
Prior Lake standout Justus Perry has become accustomed to intentional walks or being pitched around. Just a freshman, she hit over .500, had 33 RBI and is already committed to play at Arizona State.
In the tournament’s first round, defending champion Stillwater walked her twice before she contributed the game-winning two-RBI double. In the semifinals, Maple Grove made sure Perry’s only options were low and away. She walked once. Only Elk River was able to challenge her and find success outside of a walk.
“She’s really good,” Maple Grove coach Jim Koltes said. “You don’t want her to beat you.”
Not a drop
The tournament’s tradition of rain never showed up. Clouds hovered over Caswell Park, but never dropped rain throughout dozens of games played Thursday and Friday.
That helped keep games mostly on schedule, but the topic remained part of many conversations.
“Perfect weather,” Class 2A champion New Ulm coach Kristi Andersen Loose said. “Usually it’s going to sprinkle at some point. But in our dugout, it’s always 70 degrees and sunny.”
This year’s weather problem was the cold. For Thursday’s first pitch, it was 54 degrees with a chilly breeze. The sun finally came out during award ceremonies late Friday afternoon.
Maple Grove coach Jim Koltes won his 200th game in Thursday’s quarterfinals. The coach of 12 years didn’t have much time to enjoy the milestone, though. The Crimson was defeated by Prior Lake in the semifinals and lost to Forest Lake in the third-place game, putting Koltes’ record at 200-84.
Jason Gonzalez • 612-673-4494