Officially, the Northfield players were making their first state tournament appearance.
But that wasn’t entirely true.
Star sophomore pitcher Brynn Hostettler lived in Winona before moving to Northfield this season. She pitched for the Winhawks at the 2018 state tournament.
“I pitched, like, two innings,” Hostettler said. “It wasn’t much.”
Enough, however, to give the hard-throwing Hostettler a taste of the state tournament environment. She was a little nervous before the Raiders’ 10-0 quarterfinals victory over Detroit Lakes, but she settled in quickly, holding the Lakers to just one hit and striking out 14 in a six-inning Raiders victory.
“She even pitched against us for one inning when she was in Winona last year,” said Raiders coach Ryan Pietsch. “We saw then what she was capable of. She was dominant again today.”
Pietsch admitted his entire team was a bit jittery before the tournament started.
“Myself included,” he said. “We had a little nerves early in the game, but once we got our first at-bats under our belt, you saw what we’re capable of. “
Hostettler looked mortal in the early stages of the semifinals, giving up two runs to Becker in the first inning. But the Raiders (20-3) scored eight unanswered runs for an 8-2 semifinals victory and a berth in the Class 3A championship game. She found her groove in the second inning, racking up five consecutive strikeouts. She finished with 14 for the second consecutive game.
“We didn’t panic,” Pietsch said. “I’m proud of how we stayed poised. And Brynn always gives us a chance. Now, were playing for a state championship in our first appearance.”