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Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson State junior Janell LaRont hits against the University of Jamestown on April 15 at Dickinson’s North Complex.

DSU’s LaRont named NAIA player of week

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The Dickinson Press
DSU’s LaRont named NAIA player of week
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The Dickinson State softball team just completed its impressive regular season on Saturday and the nation took notice.

After batting .733 (11 for 15) on the week, designated hitter Janell LaRont was named the NAIA and Frontier Conference player of the week on Tuesday. Besides her batting average, LaRont also recorded 10 RBI, picked up six extra-base hits — including two home runs — and scored seven runs.

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The news came as a total surprise to the junior, who put together her first complete week after suffering a back injury.

“Honestly I didn’t even expect it,” LaRont said. “When (head coach Kristen Fleury) called me before practice I was like ‘How did I get that?’ I didn’t even know because I’m not even on the field and just didn’t really expect it.”

The injury has been tough on LaRont. It has barred her from competing as an infielder and a pitcher. However, she’s battled through it and has earned her keep as one of the team’s go-to batters.

LaRont’s strongest performance of the week came against Mayville State on Friday when she went 3 for 3 with a home run, two RBI and two runs. During the six-game week, she had at least one hit per game and recorded four multi-hit outings.

“A couple weeks ago she suffered from a back injury and she’s been fighting through it because she has that work ethic and determination and wants to be out there,” Fleury said. “It’s just a testament to the type of athlete she is and what she does for our team.”

Though she can’t take part in the defense with the rest of the team, LaRont said she firmly believes the pitching circle is in good hands with starters Regan Lawrence and Tiffany Morgan.

“It sucks for me because I miss it, but I’m like I can’t be mad because they’re doing awesome,” she said. “I can’t ask for anything else.”

LaRont wasn’t the only Blue Hawk to be honored for her performance last week. Lawrence picked up her second Frontier Conference pitcher of the week on Tuesday.

Lawrence has been lights out all season, but her pitching was most notable last week helping DSU to an 8-0 finish. In 22 innings, the junior starter gave up three earned runs on 17 hits, four walks and 27 strikeouts. Lawrence earned her first nomination on April 14.

“I honestly thought if you got it once you couldn’t get it again,” she said with a smile. “I feel like I’ve been having a good season though and I’m happy about it.”

The performances from the two players best sums up the season DSU has been having and the caliber of playing the team as a whole has put together. Both LaRont and Lawrence agreed their team is confident in themselves but humble to the point they don’t even realize how well they’re performing on the field.

The Blue Hawks finished the regular season 35-13 overall, 20-1 in conference. DSU was perfect at home. Lawrence said the recognition from the NAIA and Frontier Conference definitely helps with the team’s confidence and solidify the job they’ve done.

“It gives us some extra confidence for sure being acknowledged we’re doing so well it helps out a lot,” she said. “It kind of gives you that ‘Oh I guess I am doing pretty good, I’m not the only one. It’s not just my teammates that think so, it’s not just coach saying good job. The stats are showing it too that makes me happy.”

After having Sunday and Monday off, DSU went back to practice Tuesday to prepare for the NAIA Unaffiliated NSAA/Frontier Softball Conference tournament which begins Friday at the University of Jamestown. The Blue Hawks begin the tournament with Dakota State (S.D.) at 10 a.m. Friday.

“We’re ready for conference right now,” LaRont said. “I think we just want to go in there and show them what we have still, not just that we won a bunch of games. I think we’re ready to just play even though we still have things to work on constantly.”

Meaghan MacDonald
Meaghan is the sports reporter for the Dickinson Press, focusing primarily on Dickinson State athletics and rodeo. After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism.