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New Life Academy pitcher Valerie Hohol (Richard Sennott/Star Tribune)

– The grin behind home plate reminded Valerie Hohol everything was OK. New Life Academy of Woodbury led 1-0, but its advantage was in jeopardy with Edgerton/Southwest Christian runners on second and third.

Hohol’s catcher, Malorie Giere, keeps the same pleasant look on her face in all scenarios. It can be the difference between strikes and balls, she said, and in this case helped produce an inning-saving strikeout in the bottom of the fifth inning of Thursday night’s Class 1A state semifinals at Caswell Park.

New Life Academy responded to Hohol and Giere’s defensive save with two more insurance runs for a 3-0 victory and the program’s seventh title-game appearance in the last eight years. The Eagles will face New Ulm Cathedral in Friday’s finale at 2 p.m.

Amanda Heidmann led the Eagles with four hits, three runs scored and three RBI in their two victories. New Life Academy defeated Norman County 11-0 in six innings in the quarterfinals. Hohol struck out 15 and gave up just six hits on the day.

New Ulm Cathedral will return to a familiar stage on Friday afternoon. The Greyhounds scored 16 runs and didn’t give up any to advance and earn the right to play for the program’s seventh state championship.

The Greyhounds beat New York Mills 13-0 in the quarterfinals and shut out Cherry 3-0 in the semifinals.

Pitchers Anna Mohr and Leah Krzmarzick split the shutout and struck out two in the quarterfinals. Mohr gave up just three hits, struck out nine and walked only one against Cherry.

Anne Schwarz and McKenna Berdan each drove in three runs for New Ulm Cathedral on the day.

Class 2A will crown a new champion

It wasn’t lunch Rockford had trouble digesting. The Rockets dethroned the Class 2A two-time defending champion in Thursday morning’s quarterfinals and the excitement overwhelmed them.

“It’s hard [to refocus], especially after going to lunch with the team, we just got so excited,” Rockford pitcher Bria Majeski said. “We thought we had it,” after beating New Ulm 3-0.

First-time state qualifier Le Sueur-Henderson edged out Rockford 1-0 in the Class 2A semifinals Thursday afternoon. The Giants advance to Friday’s 1 p.m. state championship game against Kasson-Mantorville.

JASON GONZALEZ

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Tag(s): Featured  Star Tribune  Rockford  Kasson-Mantorville  New Life Academy of Woodbury  Southwest Christian  Le Sueur-Henderson  New York Mills  Norman County  New Ulm  Southwest  Cherry  Park   Woodbury  New Ulm Cathedral