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New Life softball: Eagles' state berth makes history

Kayla Binsfeld climbs the back of teammate Chloe Westland in celebration of New Life Academy’s Section 4A championship on Tuesday after the Eagles topped Columbia Heights 10-0 in the title game at Hamline University. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)

New Life Academy softball players flooded out of the dugout toward home plate in celebration on Tuesday with many yelling out the same three words.

“We made history.”

The Eagles topped Columbia Heights 10-0 in five innings to claim the Section 4A crown at Hamline University. The title marked the ninth-straight sectional championship for New Life Academy -- a new state record.

“It meant everything,” senior third baseman Amanda Heidmann said. “This was our goal since the beginning of the year -- since a couple of years ago. We set our sights on it and now we finally did it and it feels so good.”

Eagles coach Mick Ramey said the team didn’t talk much about setting the record throughout the season, but it was one of the preseason goals.

“It was the elephant in the room,” he said.

That elephant provided pressure for the girls to produce as they have year after year in recent history. And they did, to the tune of 15 wins and just two losses during the regular season.

That’s when the pressure of achieving the record hit home.

“Coming into the section tournament we realized, ‘Whoa, this is reality,’” Heidmann said. “I know definitely the older girls were feeling nervous.”

But the nerves weren’t evident in the performance as the Eagles went 4-0 on their way to another section title. Junior catcher Malorie Giere said the squad was aided by an ever-lasting confidence, which has developed through the team’s sustained success.

“We feel like we have the pressure to perform, but we also are so confident that we’ve done it for so many years and it’s just a cool feeling,” she said. “I love how so many people have confidence in us.”

Now New Life marches on to its ninth-straight state tournament, looking to end a two-year title drought which includes a runner-up finish a year ago. This Eagles team features an experienced, balanced core -- as shown by the seven players who recorded hits in Tuesday’s win. It’s a core driven by last year’s shortcoming, Ramey said.

“It always does,” he said. “It is a motivating factor for us.”