northfield trophy

The Northfield softball team started its trek for a second consecutive state title Tuesday night in the first round of the Section 1-4A playoffs, although this time it needs to do so in Class AAAA. The Raiders enter the section tournament as the top seed. (File Photo/southernminn.com)

In its first year in Class AAAA, Northfield enters the Section 1-4A tournament as the No. 1 seed, but a relatively deep section has goals to not let the new kids win in their first try.

So far, the Raiders have answered every challenge from their new section foes with a combined 4-0 record against New Prague, Owatonna and Farmington — the No. 3 through No. 5 seeds in the Section 1-4A playoffs, which starts its double-elimination bracket with Tuesday night's quarterfinals. The one top team Northfield has yet to play this year? No. 2 seed Lakeville North, which possesses a pair of wins against Eastview — one of only two losses for the Raiders this season.

Northfield's hold on the top seed, and possibly Lakeville North's position as the No. 2 seed, were well-established prior to the seeding meeting for the Section 1-4A softball playoffs.

The same can also be said for Rochester Mayo and Rochester Century's destiny to meet in Tuesday's play-in round for the right to play the top-ranked Raiders immediately after.

Everything between that, however, appears to have been up for discussion. When the dust eventually settled, seeds three through seven played out like this: New Prague, Owatonna, Farmington, Lakeville South, Rochester John Marshall.

That means Owatonna hosts Farmington on Tuesday night in a first-round No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup after the Tigers beat the Huskies 2-1 in the only regular-season matchup between the two, and Farmington split a pair of games against Lakeville North. The Tigers also played Northfield closer than any other section team in their 2-0 defeat in Northfield.

The magic bullet for Owatonna was likely a doubleheader split against Class AAA No. 1 Mankato West in the final week of the season.

Even that split wasn't enough to chase down New Prague, which still snagged the No. 3 seed despite ending the season on a five-game losing streak against Northfield, Elk River, Champlin Park, Chanhassen and Bloomington Jefferson. Excluding Champlin Park, the other four teams sport a combined record of 67-10 this season.

Lakeville South, meanwhile, swept the two-game series against Farmington but was saddled with the No. 6 seed. Rochester John Marshall, meanwhile, features the best record of those middle five squads, although a combined 0-3 mark against Owatonna and Northfield, plus a meager non-conference slate compared to the other teams, was likely what sent the Rockets to the bottom of the pile and to Lakeville North for its first-round matchup.

A byproduct of all these close seeding decision likely means the action after Tuesday's first round in the winner's and loser's brackets at Austin Todd Park should remain compelling until the final rounds. Listed below are statistical glances at each of the top seven seeds in the Section 1-4A tournament.

No. 1 Northfield (18-2)

Record against section: 9-0

QRF rank: No. 6

Last five games: 5-0

Last 10 games: 10-0

Average runs for: 10.5

Average runs against: 0.9

No. 2 Lakeville North (13-5)

Record against section: 2-1

QRF rank: No. 17

Last five games: 4-1

Last 10 games: 7-3

Average runs for: 6.1

Average runs against: 3.4

No. 3 New Prague (12-7)

Record against section: 0-1

QRF rank: No. 24

Last five games: 0-5

Last 10 games: 5-5

Average runs for: 7.0

Average runs against: 6.1

No. 4 Owatonna (11-9)

Record against section: 6-3

QRF rank: No. 29

Last five games: 3-2

Last 10 games: 6-4

Average runs for: 7.0

Average runs against: 5.5

No. 5 Farmington (9-11)

Record against section: 3-3

QRF rank: No. 36

Last five games: 2-3

Last 10 games: 3-7

Average runs for: 4.5

Average runs against: 4.3

No. 6 Lakeville South (8-10)

Record against section: 2-2

QRF rank: No. 37

Last five games: 1-4

Last 10 games: 4-6

Average runs for: 3.8

Average runs against: 3.7

No. 7 Rochester John Marshall (14-6)

Record against section: 4-3

QRF rank: No. 34

Last five games: 5-0

Last 10 games: 7-3

Average runs for: 7.2

Average runs against: 4.1

Reach Regional Sports Editor Michael Hughes at 645-1106 or follow him on Twitter @APGSoMnHughes. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved. 

Sports Editor for the Northfield News. Also a California native looking for tips on surviving the winter and an Indiana University grad on the quest for a good breaded pork tenderloin.

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