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JT Koczur, a junior infielder for the Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville adapted softball team, caught the final out of the CI (cognitively impaired) Division state tournament championship game on Saturday.

Held aloft in his right hand, the fluorescent plastic orb couldn't match the bright glow of his smile.

Koczur and the Blazing Cats overcame two regular-season losses to Dakota United and won the third meeting by a 7-5 score in 11 innings at Chanhassen High School.

"I'm really happy," Koczur said. "I cannot believe I caught that ball."

He did much more to secure the victory. His double drove in the winning run in the top of the 11th inning. Caden Roseth sent Koczur home for a second run as the Blazing Cats (8-3) successfully defended their state title.

The loss spoiled a previously undefeated season for Dakota United (10-1). Senior Thomas Christopherson knocked in two runs with a double in the bottom of the sixth inning and the game remained tied 5-5 after seven innings of regulation.

The Hawks nearly ended the game in the eighth inning, but a baserunner got thrown out at home, ending the inning and the threat.

Blazing Cats freshman Cayleigh Sorenson pitched all 11 innings. She added four hits, one RBI and a run scored.

Not long after the game, Koczur took the ball out of his hand, leaving room to help hold his tear-stained face. He joined teammates Ella Carvel, Riley Deutsch, Ryan Maltby, Eric Rodriguez, Caden Roseth, Clarke Ruhland and Caden Zoldey as repeat state champions.

"I really wish we would have been done earlier," Koczur said. "But all this was definitely worth it."

Dakota United repeats

Senior Jordan Johnson needed some convincing to join Dakota United's successful PI (physically impaired) Division team.

Adapted floor hockey was his athletic focus. Credit Fiona Sitzmann for helping to convince Johnson to join the softball team as a junior last season. The lone seniors on the roster secured another state tournament championship.

The Hawks defeated Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka 13-6 on Saturday at Chanhassen.

"Two years in a row, it feels nice," said Johnson, who held two fingers high after the game. "It took me awhile to like it, but it turned out pretty good."

Johnson finished 4-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and three runs scored. Sitzmann added two hits but made her biggest impact with her defense. The shortstop twice caught fly balls and converted double plays.

"Fiona is just an amazing young lady who has been a full-time starter for us since the 2018 season," Hawks coach Brett Kosidowski said. "She has been the leader of this squad through and through. She is best player on the team and has a huge heart."

The same could be said for the second-place Robins (8-2), a team with four seventh-graders and five softball rookies.

"To even be near the top of our North Conference was a tremendous accomplishment," coach Marcus Onsum said. "We came in saying, 'Anything we do here at state is just icing on the cake.' "

The Hawks (13-0) led 8-6 after five innings then scored five times in the bottom of the sixth inning.

"We knew we could score runs," Kosidowski said. "We're a veteran team and we just had to pick each other up."