Someday, Chatfield softball will make it to state. It they want to do so with star pitcher Lexi Chase, it’ll have to be next year. This season marked the Gophers sixth straight trip to Austin for a section Final Four, the eighth straight 17-plus win season. But, Chatfield came up short of simply playing for state, of making a section title game. Jerry Chase’s Gophers (18-5) did get a big win, over #3 in AA Z-M (19-4) in an elimination game. A Chase lead-off double, and error, and Alanna Goetzinger’s 2-out, 2-run single gave the Gophers two first inning runs. Cougar Avery Steffen’s lead-off solo home run a ½ inning later made it 2-1. In the fifth, Abby Nosbisch doubled and scored on a fielder’s choice making it 3-1. The Berg sisters authored RBIs in the seventh inning (Belle sac fly, Peyton double) for some insurance. Via a 5-1 total, Chatfield beat the Cougs. Chase (2-2, two 2B, 2 R, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, Win) led the way, never facing more than four in an inning. P-Berg (1-4, 2B) and Goetzinger (2-4) each had two RBI. Nosbisch (1-2, 2B), Katie Ihrke (1-3, 2B), and Teagan Allen (0-1) also scored runs. Z-M beat both Lourdes and Cotter in the regular season. The Gophers (19-5) then faced nemesis #2 in AA Cotter (21-2), which fell to Lourdes 4-1 in the “chair” game. The pivotal inning was the fifth. Chase got an out, but then walked two and ceded pitching to Carlie Berge. A slow ground-ball to short turned into an error and a run scored. A Tiegan Mancuso single then authored the game’s only RBI. For a fourth straight game, Chatfield’s offense couldn’t plate a run versus Rambler senior pitcher Isabel Northup (despite amassing eight hits). The season ended via a 2-0 final. Chase had two hits but took the loss (2-3, 4 1/3 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 5 K). Northrup again grabbed the pitching spotlight (7 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K, Win). Chatfield’s season ends at 19-6. It’s is their third straight section “third” place finish. They haven’t made a title game since 2014. Belle Berg and Goetzinger are the only two seniors. Berg has been a great one, a five-year starter with 20-plus career home runs and 100-plus RBIs.