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Maple Grove holds off seventh-inning Stillwater threat to win first 4A softball title

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 06/07/19, 7:15PM CDT


The Crimson's 3-2 victory came after the defending champion Ponies loaded the bases and scored twice but couldn't plate the game-tying run.

Maple Grove teammates celebrated at the plate after their ace pitcher, Ava Dueck (26), hit a home run against Stillwater in the bottom of the first inning. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky ¥ aaron.lavinsky@startribune.com

It was the bottom of the seventh inning and Maple Grove was clinging to a one-run lead. Stillwater’s Morgan Wohlers hit a sharp ground ball that appeared headed toward centerfield.

Ava Dueck, Maple Grove’s marvelous senior pitcher, stabbed at it with her glove, deflecting the ball right to second baseman Jade Tomashek.

The bases were loaded and there were two outs, so the runners were moving. If Tomashek doesn’t make the play, a run scores and the Class 4A title game is tied.

But Tomashek, a senior who will play at Winona St. next year, reacted like the heady veteran she is. She gloved the ball, reached out and tagged Stillwater’s Ani Bell as she was running past.

And just like that, Maple Grove had won the Class 4A state championship, defeating 2018 champion Stillwater 3-2. The explosion of emotion from the Crimson was as much from relief as it was from joy.

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