Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Hayfield and Winona are all going back to the State Fastpitch Tournament next week in North Mankato.

Never underestimate the heart of a champion.

The Zumbrota-Mazeppa Cougars were underdogs Thursday night when they took the field at Todd Park in Austin against the Rochester Lourdes Eagles, but they had one thing on their side. The Cougars are the defending state champions.

The No. 2-rated Eagles had just one loss heading into the games and needed just one win to punch their ticket to Caswell Park in North Mankato next Thursday and Friday.

Zumbrota-Mazeppa won both games by convincing 7-2 scores, and the games were near mirror images of each other.

The Cougars jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning of the first game and took a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the second game.

Zumbrota-Mazeppa sophomore catcher Natalye Quam was an absolute thorn in the side of the Rochester Lourdes Eagles going 5 of 7 with two doubles, two RBI's and five runs scored on the day.

Junior pitcher Lyndsey Quam threw three innings of no-hit ball in the first game and went the distance in the nightcap while allowing just three hits and one earned run. Senior Pitcher Tara Matuska tossed four innings in the first game, scattering five hits, allowing one earned run and striking out four batters.

Hayfield has been a scoring machine in the playoffs, outscoring their opponents 64-7.

The Class 1A seventh-ranked Vikings are going to the state tournament for the third straight year after beating Wabasha-Kellogg 7-2 Thursday at Todd Park in Austin. There is not one senior on their team.

Junior Kyal Heydt smacked two home runs and junior Kate Kruger added another dinger for the Vikings.

Eighth-grade pitcher Caitlyn Hendrickson just gets better and better in the pitching circle, with the Hayfield team riding a seven-game winning streak and are winners of 10 of their last 11 games.

The Winona Winhawks are also going back to the big show after an impressive 3-0 win over Stewartville. Ms. Softball finalist Ashton Hoeppner threw a three-hitter while striking out 14 Tiger batters.

The Winhawks are riding a 19-game winning streak and opened their season with a 6-1 loss to the Faribault Falcons.

The Section 1 Class 4A champion is Farmington after an 8-7 win over New Prague.

They seed the state tournament this weekend.

Zumbrtota-Mazeppa 2016 State Class AA Champions- photo by Gordy Kosfeld