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Lawrence rips RBI double to spark 3-run 5th inning to lead DSU past VCSU

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State players congratulate freshman Morgan Wandler after scoring the game-tying run on a Regan Lawrence's RBI double to right-center field. DSU used the momentum to spark a three-run fifth. The Blue Hawks won 3-1.

The Valley City State softball team could only hold Dickinson State's bats at bay for so long.

Once the Blue Hawks broke out, they never trailed again.

DSU used a three-run fifth inning to take a 3-1 win over VCSU to advance to the semifinals of the NAIA Unaffiliated Tournament on Friday at Gress Softball Complex.

"We stayed patient," DSU head coach Kristen Fleury said. "They hit well, pitched well and played good defense. Fortunately for us, we came out on top."

The Blue Hawks (23-13) haven't had any trouble scoring runs this season against the Vikings. DSU has defeated VCSU by an average of 7.6 runs in the two team's five meetings this season.

VCSU (9-25) was familiar with DSU putting up a multiple-run inning. The Blue Hawks have scored double-digit runs against the Vikings in two of the five games.

"Sam (Nalley) -- our starting pitcher -- was hitting her spots well and keeping the hitters at bay a little bit," VCSU head coach Chad Slyter said. "The biggest thing is that we just played well defensively. Dickinson is going to put the ball in play. As long as you don't give them extra opportunities you're going to be OK."

However, it was the Vikings that struck first. VCSU scored its lone run in the third inning when Liz Hall scored on a Courtney Shadlock RBI single.

Nonetheless, the Blue Hawks never panicked, didn't fret and just kept plugging away at the plate. The hits were bound to drop and they did in the fifth.

After Nicole Lobato drew a walk to start the inning, Kristy Ortiz sacrifice bunted DSU courtesy runner Morgan Wandler over to second bases. Then the big hit arrived. Regan Lawrence ripped a RBI double to right center to score Wandler.

"When I got up there, I was little nervous," Lawrence said. "When she threw the ball, it was right in there, so I took a rip at it."

Daniel Benito flied out, but leadoff hitter and starting pitcher Taysia Kaufman didn't leave Lawrence stranded. Kaufman ripped a RBI single to left and advance to third in the inning. Monique Yslas drove in Kaufman on a single to center.

"All year, hitting has been contagious with our team," Fleury said. "That's what happened in the fifth."

Kaufman, who allowed nine hits and one run, breezed through the final two innings causing three groundouts, one flyout and two strikeouts to close out the win.

"It was just nice that we could get some hits for Taysia, string them together and make it work," Lawrence said about the three-run fifth inning.

Slyter said it's always a feat to outhit the Blue Hawks. The Vikings never came up with the clutch hit.

"Anytime you can outhit Dickinson State, you are doing something well," he said. "The timely hit just didn't come in the first four innings."

VCSU's tournament isn't over as it plays Mayville State at 10 a.m. The Vikings defeated Dakota State earlier in the day 11-6.

"I thought we played two solid games today," Slyter said. "The message is just to carry the intensity, carry the atmosphere into the game tomorrow."

DSU plays the winner of Jamestown College and the University of Great Falls (Mont.) at 3 p.m. today.

"We just have to worry about tomorrow," Fleury said. "Everyone is going to come out and give us their best shot. Hopefully, we got the first-game jitters out of the way."

VCSU 001 000 0 -- 1 9 0

DSU 000 030 x -- 3 5 0

Samantha Nalley and Savannah McMillin. Taysia Kaufman and Aubrey Ayala. W-Kaufman. L-Nalley. Highlights: VCSU, Courtney Shadlock 2-for-2 RBI, McMillin 2-for-3, Hilary Kulczewski 1-for-3, Liz Hall-Sewell 2-for-4, Adrianna Boychuk 1-for-4, Brittany Lehner 1-for-2. DSU, Kaufman 2-for-3 RBI, Monique Yslas 1-for-3 RBI, Rebecca Lopez 1-for-3, Regan Lawrence 1-for-2 RBI.