NORTH MANKATO – In every state tournament, there are moments. And then there are Moments,
split-second instances that become lifetime memories for all who were there to witness it.
One of those moments took place at 4:03 p.m. Friday at Caswell Park. A scoreless softball game to decide the Class 4A state championship ended on a walk-off home run by Farmington junior Emma Frost with two out in the 10th inning. That gave the Tigers the championship – Farmington folks said it was the first team state title in school history -- with a 1-0 victory over Anoka.
Emma will surely remember it forever, as will her teammates and coaches and parents and siblings and grandparents and other fans. And how about Farmington senior pitcher Maddie Muelken (profiled yesterday in John’s Journal), leading her team while undergoing cancer treatments? Amazing.
Friday’s defeat was a tough pill to swallow for the kids from Anoka, who had a grand season and came oh-so-close to being state champs. Take it from someone who played on a high school football team that came up just short in a state championship game: You never forget the fun, the good times, the positive memories.
Which brings us to a coach named Andrew Fleischman. His team from Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian finished second in Class 1A softball, falling to New York Mills 8-4 Friday. (Pictured are the New York Mills captains receiving the first-place trophy.) The Flying Dutchmen continued an amazing run in softball, where they were state champs last season and finished third and fourth the two years before that. That’s four big-time trophies for the five seniors on the team: Jaidyn Henstra, Jordyn Smidt, Jenny Nelson, Liz Buckridge and Mallory Zeinstra.
“I think it’s a great accomplishment,” Fleischman said. “Our seniors are a great group of girls. They were great leaders. There’s nothing to hang your head about to have a career where you’re consolation champions, third place, second place and first place.
“What’s more important, though, is that they’re great teammates, great young ladies, great people to be around, and that goes for all our girls. We talk a lot about whether things are good or bad, you don’t measure the strength of a team through scoreboards. I’m really, really proud of them.”
Read those words again: Whether things are good or bad, you don’t measure the strength of a team through scoreboards. A few days ago I mentioned such a philosophy in this space, writing, “Lots of teams and individuals will pose with trophies and medals, wearing the biggest smiles of their lives. Those are wonderful moments for sure, but the simple joys of competing, learning, sharing and growing are what’s most important.”
Andrew (pictured) is in a unique position. He coaches teams in three different sports, involving kids from three different schools. In the fall he’s the head coach of the Edgerton/Ellsworth football team; in the winter he’s the head coach of the Edgerton girls basketball team; and in the spring he leads the Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian softball team.
Southwest Minnesota Christian is located in Edgerton, a town of slightly more than 1,000 people in southwest Minnesota. Ellsworth is 30 miles south.
Girls from Edgerton High School and Southwest Christian High School are rivals during basketball season and teammates during softball season; boys from Edgerton and Ellsworth are teammates in football and opponents in basketball.
Fleischman, a history teacher at Edgerton, laughed about keeping everything and everybody straight.
“Oh, I’ve got to work with names and pronounciations,” he said. “I’ve got like 42 Jadens and things like that.
“It’s just fun. I get to work with lots of different kids. And what they all have in common is they’re all great kids, they all work hard and they all buy into being great teammates and great community members.”
He was smiling after Friday’s defeat, expressing nothing but positives about the Eagles of New York Mills and his own team. It was the essence of class, dignity and doing what’s best for kids. Like all great coaches around our state, Andrew Fleischman knows what’s important.
“Sometimes you work hard and you do everything you can to prepare yourself, and when the moment comes it doesn’t go your way,” he said. “We can dwell on that or we can dwell on the fact that New York Mills has a very good team. We played hard, played up to our ability, gave it a good run at the end and ultimately came up just a bit short.”
Andrew is the father of three daughters, so expect to see the family name on his team’s rosters in the future; the girls will be in ninth grade, fifth grade and second grade when the 2017-18 school year begins.
The coach of fall, winter and spring teams doesn’t see much change during the summer. His plans for the day after the state softball tournament? Helping coach one of his daughter’s youth softball teams at a tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D.
You just know everyone will have a great time.State Softball Tournament
1A/ New York Mills 8, Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian 8-4
2A/ Zumbrota-Mazeppa 4, Maple Lake 1
3A/ Winona 9, Hermantown 2
4A/ Farmington 1, Anoka 0 (10 innings)Third-place games
1A/ Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 15, Hayfield 2
2A/ Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 9, Esko 2
3A/ Totino-Grace 8, Mankato West 1
4A/ Chanhassen 1, Woodbury 0Fifth-place games
1A/ Kimball 9, Pillager 3
2A/ Pipestone 12, Albany 0
3A/ Waconia 4, Thief River Falls 2
4A/ Buffalo 6, Maple Grove 4Boys State Tennis
--Doubles/ Ben Ingbar and Christopher Hall of Blake won the title by defeating Breck’s Matthew Metz and Thomas Metz 6-4, 6-4.
--Singles/ Blake junior Jack Barker defeated freshman teammate Joe Mairs 6-4, 6-2 in the championship match.Class 2A
--Doubles/ The championship went to Rochester Century’s Nick Aney and Varun Iyer with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Chase Roseth and Hunter Roseth of Lakeville South.
--Singles/ Ben Van der sman of East Ridge defeated Sebastian Vile of Rochester Mayo 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the title match.State Track Day One Highlights
--Osseo eighth-grader Nyalaam Jok won the Class 2A girls high jump, clearing 5-8 (the state record is 5-11).
--St. Michael-Albertville senior and state record holder Anna Keefer captured her second Class 2A long jump title, going 18 feet, 10 ½ inches.
Most of the events Friday were preliminaries. The meet will conclude Saturday.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 718
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 11,606
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn