Faribault is in the state tournament for the first time in school history and is the No. 1 seed in Class 3A. The Falcons will open tournament play against Bemidji. Photo by Mike Randleman, Faribault Daily News
The seedings were announced for this year's state softball tournament. While two of the four teams that won state championships in 2017 — Winona and New York Mills — are back to defend their crowns, there are plenty of new teams in the field looking to make their mark.
It starts in Class 4A where defending state champion Farmington was knocked out in the Section 1 final 8-7 by Lakeville North as the Panthers make their first state tournament trip since 2007. The No. 1 seed in the field is Park of Cottage Grove, which lost just once this season and is in its third consecutive state tournament.
The most intriguing field, however, might be Class 3A. Faribault comes in as the No. 1 seed on the heels of qualifying for its first-ever state tournament appearance. The Falcons knocked out perennial power Mankato West 3-2 in the Section 2 championship. Faribault will open against Bemidji, which is also making its state tournament debut.
North Branch comes in as the No. 2 seed after winning the Class 3A, Section 7 championship, and like Faribault and Bemidji, is making its first state appearance. The Vikings have lost just twice all season and will open up against Holy Angels, which returns to the tourney after a 17-year absence.
Aside from the top two seeds, this field is balanced and looks to have plenty of contenders. Winona, the defending Class 3A state champion, is back as the No. 4 seed.
The Winhawks (17-5) don't quite have the flashy record of Faribault (20-2) and North Branch (23-2), but they come in with junior Annika Anderson, their star pitcher, and they return with championship pedigree. In the Section 1 tournament, Anderson gave up just a single earned run in 14 innings pitched.
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