Year in Review 2011: New Life Academy makes itself un-four-gettable with title No. 4
In 2011, New Life Academy earned its place in history.
This past year, the Eagles became the first softball team in Minnesota history to win four consecutive state championships with an 8-2 win over Cherry/Cotton in the Class A championship game on Friday, June 10, at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
After winning the fourth-straight state championship, New Life head coach Mick Ramey said it felt "very surreal."
"This is going to put our legacy at New Life in the books," Ramey said after the game. "There may be other teams that duplicate it, but I don't know. It's so tough to do. I've talked to so many coaches about it. It's really hard to repeat. There is so much pressure."
NLA 2011 graduates and team captains Rebekah Schmidt and Katie Stodolka played on all four of the Eagles' state championship teams.
In the state championship game, No. 4-ranked New Life Academy (24-4) expanded on its 3-2 lead with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, making it a 6-2 game, which was more than enough for the Eagles and Schmidt, who earned the win on the mound, going the distance, while allowing four hits and striking out 10. Stodolka led the way for the Eagles at the plate, going 3-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored in the win. In addition, Schmidt drew three walks and had one run scored, freshman Amanda Heidmann was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored and senior shortstop Lauren St. John scored two runs.
2011 was NLA's sixth straight state tournament appearance. The Eagles competed in their first-ever state tournament in 2006 and were Class A runner-ups in 2007. New Life won its third-straight Class A state championship with a 2-0 defeat of Barnum in the 2010 state final. Prior to New Life, New Ulm Cathedral was the last team to win three-straight championships -- in 1993, 1994 and 1995.
After a 5-4 loss to Lester Prairie early in the year, New Life outscored its opponents 90-6 in nine straight wins, before finally losing again. The Eagles earned a trip to the state final with a pair of wins on Thursday, June 9. The Eagles handed ninth-ranked Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg its first loss of the season, beating the Fighting Saints, 3-2, in the semifinals on Thursday afternoon after drubbing previously undefeated and seventh-ranked Osakis 13-0 in the state tournament opener on Thursday morning.