Izzy Yahr has started for Rosemount for five years. Irish coach Tiffany Rose doesn’t think the senior middle infielder had ever hit a varsity home run — until Tuesday night, in one of the biggest possible moments.
Yahr hit a three-run blast in the bottom of the sixth-inning to all-but seal the Irish’s 8-3 Class 4A semifinal victory over second-seeded Centennial (22-2) in North Mankato.
Rosemount (23-1) will meet Forest Lake for the state title Wednesday at Caswell Park. First pitch is set for noon.
“For me in that moment, you’re just so happy for Izzy to hit that ball, have a great hit,” Rose said. “She saved it for a very good time.”
Prior to that home run, Centennial had the momentum. The Cougars, once down 5-0, mounted a rally against Rosemount star sophomore ace Jessa Snippes to close the game to 5-3. The Centennial crowd was getting loud. Things were getting tense.
“I just knew that we needed to get something going. I didn’t know it was going to be a home run,” Yahr said. “I wanted to get a base hit to move the runners. Centennial had a little run there with getting a few runs, and fans were rattling everyone. I just knew I had to get something in play.”
Any Centennial crowd noise dissipated when the ball went over the fence.
“We always knew she had it in her,” Snippes said.
It was a typical response for Rosemount. Rose said the Irish have stayed level all season. They never let their emotions affect their play, not even on the grand stage. Pressure high? Crowd loud? No problem. Not even for a relatively young team void of state tournament experience.
“I think they’re just fearless. I don’t think they know that they’re maybe not supposed to be beating teams,” Rose said. “I just think they don’t have any worries, they just get after it and hope it goes their way, and it’s been going their way a lot. It’s been great.”
Snippes said the state tournament is “a lot more intense” than she expected, and that’s a good thing.
“It’s kind of fun,” she said. “I actually like the cheering, the competitiveness. It’s fun.”
And it’s bringing out the best in the Irish. Third-seeded Rosemount was solid all day Tuesday, starting with its 6-2 victory over South Suburban Conference rival Lakeville North, which was responsible for Rosemount’s lone loss this season.
The Irish were strong defensively behind Snippes and got the timely hitting needed to advance deep into the tournament.
“They’re just playing their best softball. They really have been playing their best softball since the section,” Rose said. “Every game we just come in ready to go, and they’re loose. They’re calm and cool and collected. … We’re super proud of them.”
Raiders’ pitcher Brooke Nesdahl allowed just two runs and four hits in six innings, but Cretin-Derham Hall fell 2-0 to Becker in the Class 3A quarterfinals Tuesday.
Becker’s lone runs came on a two-run blast from center fielder Kurstyn Patnode in the bottom of the third. Emma Eickhoff threw a three-hit shutout for Becker.
The loss ended a magical season for Cretin-Derham Hall (11-13), which lost its first five games of the season but won seven of its final nine to advance to state.
Becker will play in Wednesday’s Class 3A title game, where it will play Winona.
Mounds Park Academy suffered its first loss of the season Tuesday via a nine-inning heartbreaker in the Class A quarterfinals, dropping a 2-1 game to St. Charles on an unearned run.
Mounds Park Academy (19-1) had 12 hits, including three from JuliAnna Gazdik. Rachel Agerter, Siri Springer and Riley Reeves each had two. Springer had the team’s lone RBI on a third-inning single to center. She was also fantastic in the circle, spacing out eight hits over eight innings, allowing just one earned run.
Brenna Koeppel went the distance for St. Charles, striking out nine.