East Ridge experienced a roller-coaster ride that would put Valleyfair to shame on Friday.
The Raptors rose to a 3-1 lead at Richfield Middle School in the early portion of their Class 4A Section 3 championship game against Eastview, only to see the bottom drop in the fifth. But East Ridge rallied for a 10-4 victory to clinch its first state tournament berth.
"I'm overflowing with emotions," said senior shortstop Sidney Zavoral. "I was in tears because I was so happy. It was quite a ride — but that's why they call us the 'Comeback Kids.' We believe in each other, and that's what is awesome."
East Ridge, ranked No. 3 in the final Class 4A coaches’ poll this season, had an easy ride to the title game, posting three straight section playoff wins by a combined margin of 20-2.
And it seemed the magical ride would continue as the Raptors (19-2) scored one run in each of the first, second and third innings to take a 3-1 lead into the fifth.
East Ridge earned its first state tournament berth with a 10-4 victory over Eastview in the Class 4A, Section 3 title game played at Richfield Middle School on Friday.
The Raptors, ranked No. 3 in the final Class 4A state coaches’ poll, scored four runs in the fifth inning and three more in the sixth to earn their forthcoming trip to Mankato.
East Ridge (19-2) was led offensively by leadoff hitter Avery Wukawitz, who had four hits and scored four runs, as well as Sidney Zavoral, whose double and single were big hits in the late-inning rallies.
The Lightning (11-10) made things interesting in the fourth inning, using a hit batsman, a single and a three-run homer by Jenna Kuhn to take a 4-3 lead.
The lead didn't last long, though, as East Ridge responded with its four-run attack in the bottom of the fifth, when the Raptors sent eight batters to the plate and knocked five hits, including RBI doubles by Zavoral and Grace Bennett.
The Raptors added three insurance runs in the sixth inning to close the victory.
The MN Softball Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only.