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Blue Hawks win DAC softball championship

Dickinson State pitcher Sara Jane Webster, left, embraces catcher Erika Arvizo after striking out Minot State shortstop Janessa Penner to win the Dakota Athletic Conference softball championship Sunday afternoon at Gress Complex. Webster struck out 41 batters over three games in the tournament.1 / 2
Dickinson State designated hitter Kyrstin Gemar prepares to connect on her solo home run during Sunday's Dakota Athletic Conference championship game at Gress Complex. DSU beat Minot State 9-0.2 / 2

To win the Dakota Athletic Conference softball tournament, Dickinson State did the same thing it has done all season -- dominated.

The third-ranked Blue Hawks hit three home runs in the first inning and pitcher Sara Jane Webster shook off a rough semifinal game against Jamestown College to toss a two-hitter and help beat Minot State 9-0 in the Dakota Athletic Conference tournament championship game Sunday afternoon at Gress Complex.

"We wanted to come out strong, and wanted to send a message that we were supposed to win and it was meant to be for us," said DSU senior Nikki Marcoux, who had a solo homer in the first inning.

Jody Lantz had a three-run shot to center field and Marcoux and Danielle Crawford added back-to-back solo bombs to put the Blue Hawks (36-3) ahead 5-0 at the end of the first, setting up their 24th consecutive victory and fourth straight DAC tournament title.

"We set the tone that first inning and that was the exciting part," DSU coach Guy Fridley said.

The big inning also gave Webster a cushion and took pressure off the sophomore, who gave up eight runs in the fifth and sixth innings before sealing a 10-8 victory over Jamestown in the morning game.

"All you can do is shake it off. There's always the next game," Webster said. "I just came back and knew we had to win."

While the Los Angeles native struck out 14 Jamestown batters, she gave up 12 hits, including a solo home run by Ashley Smoke.

The right-hander made sure that kind of outburst wouldn't happen against Minot State, which beat Jamestown 3-2 in the championship play-in game.

Webster struck out eight batters and never faced more than four batters in an inning to help her team end the game in the fifth inning via the eight-run rule.

"When she's on, she is on and she was definitely on today," Minot State coach Bill Triplett said.

Webster finished the tournament with 41 strikeouts in three games, bringing her season total to 271 and breaking the school record of 252 she set last season. She fanned 19 on Saturday against Black Hills State.

"From Game 1 to Game 2 today I thought S.J. brought her game to a new level," Fridley said. "She knew that first game she had to bring her best stuff and she had it."

But Webster's arm wasn't the only facet of the Blue Hawks' game that was working.

Each DSU player reached base and all but one had a hit.

DSU designated hitter Kyrstin Gemar had a solo homer to start a four-run third inning that put the Beavers on their heels.

Amanda Mickey added a double to score Kelly Jahn, one of three players who reached on base hits in the inning. On the next at bat, MSU first baseman Kira Peturson bobbled the ball while trying to put out Vanessa Adame, which allowed both Mickey and Erika Arvizo to score.

"Everyone can kind of get the job done," Lantz said. "It's nice."

The Blue Hawks move on to the NAIA national tournament, which begins May 14 in Decatur, Ala.

The Blue Hawks haven't lost since March 20 in Tucson, Ariz. Two of their losses came against the top two teams in the national poll, No. 1 California Baptist and No. 2 Lubbock Christian.

"We're going in there with a lot of confidence," Fridley said. "Last year we went in there on a little bit of a slump, especially hitting. This year we're going in on a high note. That's something as a coach and as a team we're excited about."

MSU 000 00 -- 0 2 1

DSU 504 0x -- 9 9 0

Sara Jane Webster and Nikki Marcoux. Deanna Mitchell, Bree Bartholomew (3), D. Mitchell (4) and Lana Dubois. W--Webster. L--D. Mitchell. HR--DSU, Jody Lantz, Nikki Marcoux, Danielle Crawford, Kyrstin Gemar.

Highlights: MSU, Alicia Penner 2-for-2. DSU, Lantz 1-for-2, HR, 3 RBI; Marcoux 1-for-2, HR; Crawford 1-for-2, HR; Gemar 1-for-3, HR; Amanda Mickey 2-for-2, 2B, RBI; Webster 1-for-2, 8 K, 2 BB, 2 H.

Dickinson State 10,

Jamestown College 8

Lantz had a two-run homer to spark a five-run first inning and a solo shot in the fourth and Arvizo blasted a three-run homer in the fourth as the Blue Hawks jumped out to a 10-0 lead.

After 11 strikeouts, Jamestown finally caught up to Webster and cut into the lead with a four-run fifth inning.

In the sixth inning, the Jimmies put together a two-out, four-run rally off two base hits and a double -- and some shaky defense by DSU -- cut DSU's lead to 10-8.

Kayla Price led the Jimmies from the plate, going 4-for-4 with three doubles and two RBI. Smoke, who opened the fifth with a solo homer, finished 3-for-4.

Crawford went 2-for-4 with two RBI and Webster helped herself with a pair of doubles.

Lantz had three home runs and six RBI in the doubleheader.

"I guess it was just my day today," Lantz said. "I was hitting the ball, seeing it good. It was a good day."

JC 000 044 0 -- 8 12 1

DSU 500 500 x -- 10 21 0

Sara Jane Webster and Erika Arvizo. Kate Street and Courtney Wong. W--Webster. L--Street. HR--JC, Ashley Smoke; DSU, Jody Lantz 2, Arvizo.

Highlights: JC, Kayla Price 4-for-4, 3 2B, 2 RBI; Smoke 3-for-4, HR; Kimberly Smith 1-for-3, 2 RBI; Heather Haegele 2-for-4. DSU, Vanessa Adame 2-for-5; Sara Jane Webster 2-for-3, 2 2B, CG, 14 K, 2 BB; Jody Lantz 2-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI; Kyrstin Gemar 2-for-2; Danielle Crawford 2-for-4, 2 RBI; Kelly Jahn 2-for-4, RBI; Arvizo 3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI; Ashley Neufeld 1-for-4, RBI.

Minot State 3,

Jamestown College 2

Ablicia Penner had a two-run homer in the first inning, which was when the Beavers scored all their runs.

Jamestown's Betsy Westerman had a two-run single in the fourth to cut the lead but Minot State pitcher Kayla Mitchell allowed just a base hit after that to seal the win.

JC 000 200 0 -- 2 6 0

MSU 300 000 x -- 3 5 1

Kayla Mitchell and Lana Dubois. Kate Street and Courtney Wong. W--Mitchell. L--Street. HR--MSU, Alicia Penner.

Highlights: MSU, A. Penner 1-for-3, 2 RBI. JC, Courtney Wong 2-for-3, run; Betsy Westerman 1-for-3, 2 RBI; Jessica Dupont 2-for-4.

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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