Winona Winhawks softball program captures first state championship

6/9/17 - Softball - MSHSL Class AAA...

Mankato, Minn. - The 19 consecutive inning scoreless streak didn't last long on Friday for Winona senior pitcher Ashton Hoeppner. After a leadoff walk, Jordyn Thomas hit a home run to give Hermantown a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

Hoeppner settled down immediately following those runs. She'd allow just one hit the rest of the way and struck out 14 batters.

Meanwhile the Winona bats stayed hot collecting 15 hits and scoring 9 runs as the Winhawks capture their first softball championship in program history.

"So many thoughts are going through my mind. I'm super excited, I'm so happy," said Hoeppner who had 40 strikeouts in her three state tournament games.

"Right at the end when we got together, we were so happy. So many of us were crying because we were so happy. I'm just super pumped."

The 9-2 victory to capture the MSHSL Class AAA state championship will forever be remembered at Winona High School.

"Last year was the first time to make the state tournament for the softball tournament.  And to be back this year, we were excited for that.  We were excited to come to the championship game," said head coach Scott Halverson.

"Everything we do, we work hard.  And we kind of make our own breaks.  And they've been able to make breaks for themselves all season long."

After a pair of shutout victories on Thursday, Winona was in a foreign place trailing after the first inning. They wouldn't be in that position long. In the top of the second the Winhawks got RBI hits from Rhiannon Reinardy and Katie Block to go back in front 4-2.

"Getting it back right away really helped because we didn't have to play catch up anymore," said Block who finished with 4 RBI. "And it helps us come out of the box hard and do our best. 

"Like words can't even describe how I feel right now.  It's really amazing and I can't believe it right now. "

After starting the season with a record of 2-3, Winona won their last 22 games to finish 24-3.

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