It could be a All Big Nine Conference state title game in Class 3A at the State High School Softball Tournament in North Mankato next week.  #1 seed Mankato West and #2 seed Northfield play their first round games at 11:00 a.m. and the next games win or lose at 5:00 p.m. Thursday.

The Raiders (18-3) losses this season were to Mankato West 5-1, Faribault 1-0 in a 10 inning thriller and 9-1 to Class 4A Elk River.  The Scarlets (23-1) only loss came against Class 4A Maple Grove 6-4 .  Mankato West defeated Northfield 5-1 in their only meeting of the regular season.  The Scarlets were Big Nine Conference champions.

The Minnesota Softball Coaches Association Class 3A rankings had Big Nine teams ranked in the top 4 nearly all season.  New Ulm, Faribault and Winona are probably looking at the brackets and seeing Visitation (11-14), Detroit Lakes (17-6), Benilde-St. Margaret's (16-7) and saying why couldn't we play in those sections this year?

The Falcons finished their year with three losses (Mankato West twice and New Ulm).  They defeated New Ulm in their first section game but couldn't get by them the second time around. Faribault was one of just three teams to defeat state bound Class 2A Rochester Lourdes. The Falcons also defeated Class 4A state ranked New Prague and Prior Lake, Mound-Westonka, Winona, Mankato East twice and Northfield.  Eight ranked teams during the regular season were defeated by Faribault and they fell in 14 innings to Mankato West.

Mankato West got the easiest draw if you look at the records of the teams.  Visitation is 11-14.  The Blazers were not rated.  Northfield opens with and unranked team also in Detroit Lakes (17-6).

#3 seed Becker (19-5) was rated #13 in last coaches poll.  The Bulldogs play Mahtomedi (13-8-1).  The Zephyrs were ranked #14 in the latest poll.

#4 seed Cloquet (19-4) was ranked #5 in last coaches poll and plays #6 ranked and #4 seed Benilde-St. Margaret's (16-7).


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