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High school softball: Winona's Fricke, Grafton, Steffes and Cotter's French named to all-state teams
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High school softball: Winona's Fricke, Grafton, Steffes and Cotter's French named to all-state teams

The Minnesota all-state softball teams were released by the Minnesota Fastpitch Coaches Association on Friday, and to no surprise the Winona area was well represented.

Winona Senior High junior Grace Fricke was named to the first team, while her teammates senior Paige Grafton and sophomore Makayla Steffes made the second team in Class AAA. Cotter junior Ali French was named to the second team in Class AA.

Fricke made the first team as a left fielder, but truly made it because of her bat, as there was few that put more fear in opposing pitchers than Fricke.

Grace Fricke mug


She hit an eye-popping .523, while leading the team in doubles (14), total bases (73), OPS (1.414) while also hitting six home runs. She also was instrumental in helping the Winhawks reach the Class AAA championship, blasting two homers with three runs batted in. Her sixth-inning home run gave the Winhawks a 6-5 lead against Sartell in the Class AAA quarterfinal.

Grafton tied the program record for RBI in a season with 45, while leading the Winhawks with seven home runs. The Iowa Lakes Community College commit hit .476 on the year as well. She had four hits and three RBI during the Winhawks’ postseason run.

Paige Grafton mug


Steffes came in as a bit of an unknown but at the end of the year became a household name. She helped solidify the Winhawks as a state title contender, taking the ball essentially every game for Winona. Out of the 168 innings pitched by Winona this season, Steffes tossed 130⅔ of them. The sophomore right-hander finished with a 1.61 ERA and struck out 162 batters, while walking just 30 and allowing just 100 hits.

Makayla Steffes mug


She was also great at the plate and played a stellar shortstop — as evident when she saved a late lead with a diving stop against Mankato West in the Class AAA semifinals. She led the Winhawks with 49 hits while hitting an incredible .520.

French was a driving force behind a Cotter offense that averaged more than nine runs per game. French had entered the postseason with 17 extra-base hits. The Ramblers (23-3) were knocked out by Zumbrota-Mazeppa in the Section 1AA tournament.


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