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The New Life softball team celebrates its opening-round win over Cherry in the state tournament Thursday morning in North Mankato.

New Life Academy softball: Eagles beat defending state champ Cherry

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The New Life Academy softball team earned revenge against defending state champion Cherry.

The second-ranked Eagles took down ninth-ranked Cherry 6-3 in the first round of the Class A state tournament this morning to advance to the semifinals. New Life Academy (17-3) opened a 2-1 lead in the first inning on Cherry then added a run in the second, a run in the third, a run in the fourth and a run in the sixth to pull away from the Tigers (21-3).

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New Life will now face Eden Valley Watkins (15-4) in the second round at 3 p.m. today at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

New Life Academy, which tied a Minnesota record this season by reaching an eighth straight state tournament, won four consecutive state championships between 2007 and 2011. Last year, in its quest for a fifth straight state championship, the team finished in fourth place in the state, falling to Cherry in the state semifinals. Last year, after beating Section 6A champion Sebeka 2-1 in the opening round, New Life fell 2-0 to No. 1-ranked Cherry in the semifinals. Cherry, which lost to New Life in the 2011 state championship game, finished the year undefeated and as 2012 Class A state champions. After the emotional loss to Cherry, New Life suffered a letdown in the third-place game, falling to New Ulm Cathedral 9-2.

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