New Life Academy’s softball team is three little victories from accomplishing its season-long goal.
The three-time defending Class 1A state champion Eagles (21-4) were planning to arrive in North Mankato on Wednesday, go through a short practice at a nearby field and then settle in for their sixth straight state tournament appearance.
It’s a drill that has become, well, routine for coach Mick Ramey. But advancing this far never gets old.
“The first one is so special. Man, you can never recreate that first trip,” he said. “But even after going back all these times, I’m still nervous. We’re trying to keep the team loose. I never, ever want the girls to see that I’m nervous. We talk about confidence all the time.”
That’s an easy task when you have the credentials of New Life Academy, a private school in Woodbury.
Seniors Rebekah Schmidt and Katie Stodolka have been with the team the entire six-year ride. Schmidt this season has 291 strikeouts in 137 innings with an ERA of 0.66. She’s also hitting .397 with five home runs. Stodolka leads the team with a .459 average and 19 RBI.