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Farmington softball will get everyone’s best after last season’s championship

Frost connects during Farmington's post-season and eventual championship run. RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
The Farmington Tigers softball team won the class AAAA state championship last summer, the first team state championship in school history. RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Along with Frost, head coach Paul Harrington said he will be relying on junior Olivia Hazelbaker to be significant contributors on both offense and defense. RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
Senior Emma Frost was the hero last year when her walk-off home run in the 10th inning won the Tigers the state championship. This year she will be relied on to lead a team that lost just three seniors from last season. RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

The Farmington softball team could not have had a better season last year. Literally. The Tigers went 17-3 in the regular season and 4-0 in section playoffs on their way to a berth in the state tournament. They then went 3-0 in the state tournament, including two close games against Anoka and Chanhassen, to become the class AAAA state champion. Now-senior Emma Frost was the hero in the championship game when she hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning.

The state championship was the next step in the progression that the Farmington softball program has undergone over the past several years with head coach Paul Harrington.

"We consider our FHS softball program very strong and consistent over the past several years," Harrington said. "We have been in the section finals for six years in a row and advanced to the state tournament four of those seasons. And now a state championship under our belt, last year was been nothing less than amazing. The kids are very proud of all these results and want to continue our program's success."

However, with success comes attention and Harrington said his team knows they will have a target on their back all season as the defending state champs. One thing that bodes well for the Tigers is that they bring almost everyone back from last year's championship team, having lost just three players to graduation. The downside, though, is that those three players played incredibly significant roles.

Battery-mates Maddie Muelken and Emily Berdan were the team's rock, with Muelken carrying the team on the mound all while battling an illness, while Berdan was strong both behind the plate and offensively. Caitie Dully helped bring the leadership with the other two while also being dangerous both ways.

With those three gone, Harrington said last year's underclassmen will need to step up this year.

"We look to Emma Frost and Olivia Hazelbaker to lead the way on offense and defense," he said. "Both are very good with the bat and glove. Also, we look for Becca Silber to lead the charge in the circle, teaming up with Katelyn Mohr behind the plate."

Harrington said his team's strength this upcoming season will be the defense behind Tarah DeCroock, Sydney Redlin, Taylor Jasper, Elly Rust, Kaitlyn Abraham, Korin Hall, Kaitlyn Hand and Molly Mogensen.

The team's goals have not changed from what they have been the last several years. Harrington said that the girls' number one goal is to return to the state tournament.

"Taking that trip to the State Tournament has been an incredible experience for our FHS softball kids," he said. "After we take that big step, then we start talking about winning and repeating as state champions. We will have our work cut out for us again, as just making it through the section playoffs will be very challenging."

With the crazy winter weather this April, the Tigers have already had six games postponed or rescheduled so far. They hope to play their first games Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, in a tournament at Caswell Park in Mankato. The games that have been rescheduled are a game against Lakeville South (now April 30), Shakopee (May 8), Lakeville North (May 10) and Rosemount (May 15). The team is looking at playing approximately 20 games in less than a month.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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