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Dickinson's softball state champions

Three Dickinson Diamonds girls fastpitch softball teams returned home as state champions after competing in the North Dakota Amateur Softball Association’s Junior Olympic Girls Fastpitch Tournament.

The tournament was held at Bismarck on July 14-16. Seven Dickinson Diamonds teams participated, ranging from the 8-9-year-olds all the way to the 18-year-olds.

The teams were recognized during a parade on Tuesday, escorted by the Dickinson Police Department and Dickinson Fire Department.

The winning teams and coaches were:

* 10 and under B Division, coached by Jackson Armstrong and Nic Peterson.

* 12 and under B Division, coached by Guy Fridley, Mark Decker, Trey Ransom and Jay Wandler.

* 14 and under A Division, coached by Andy Campbell, Scott LaFond and Josh Wilke.

The fastpitch softball  program in Dickinson was organized 11 years ago, and it has grown to nearly 200 girls. There are 20 teams of 12 and younger who play in league and another seven teams of 14 to 18-year olds, who play travel ball.

The 14 and under team is headed to Minnesota this weekend to play in the NAFA tournament. The other teams are done for the season.

Jamy Nelson, whose daughter, Taylor, plays with the 14 and under team, said the girls have been practicing since the beginning of May, usually before school.

“We’re so proud of the girls -- they worked so hard in those early morning practices because we don’t have the field space to accommodate 20 teams. They play softball along with their other activities -- many of the girls are three-sport athletes and are doing other activities besides softball.”

Nelson attributes the growth of fastpitch softball to the excitement of getting out on the field and being part of a team.

“The older girls have been playing together since they were 6 years old -- we’ve become our own little softball family,” she said.