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Blue Hawks silence Yellow Jackets: Dickinson State softball scores big, shut down Black Hills State

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson State freshman right fielder Kailey Olcott hits a two-run home run to center field during the first inning of the first game of a doubleheader against Black Hills State (S.D.) on Monday at Dickinson’s North Complex.

The Dickinson State softball team finished its four-game home stand on a high note, with two shutouts and an abundance of runs.

The Blue Hawks shut down Black Hills State (S.D.) 13-0 and 8-0 on Monday at Dickinson’s North Complex.

The team was cool, calm and collected on and off the field, which pitcher Tiffany Morgan said has been one of the keys to their success.

“I enjoy playing with the team, they’re so energetic and the dugout keeps me up the entire game,” Morgan said. “They always are cheering the entire time and it makes it more enjoyable to be out there.”

During the first game, the Blue Hawks opened with a seven-run inning which started with Alex Vargas reaching first on a missed catch by right fielder Katherine Drake and drove home third baseman Rebecca Lopez.

Designated hitter Janell LaRont — finished 2 for 2 with a two-run home run and three RBI — hit a RBI double and DSU scored on its next two at bats, which included a RBI single by Justeena Gutierrez and a two-run home run by right fielder Kailey Olcott.

DSU starting pitcher Regan Lawrence had a strong performance in the circle. She pitched a three-hit shutout over five innings with one walk and seven strikeouts.

“We continued off what we had going for us on Saturday, so it was good to see,” DSU head coach Kristen Fleury said. “We came out early, swung the bats well once again in that first game. We got everybody through nine hitting the ball Regan gave us a chance on the mound and played well.”

DSU followed its big first inning with a four-run second and a two-run third inning with home runs from LaRont and Lindsey Sullivan. Sullivan finished 3 for 3 with two doubles, a home run, two runs and three RBI.

In the past six games, the Blue Hawks have picked up the power in their hitting and recorded 10 home runs. LaRont — who is batting .375 and has three home runs on the year — said the constant cheering and fun atmosphere in the dugout helps encourage the hitting as well as the overall attitude of players.

Pitching and defense again was key in containing the Yellow Jackets in the second game. Morgan lasted all five innings, gave up six hits, two walks and struck out five. Morgan, who is normally a reliever, had been thrusted into the starting position and is finally becoming more at ease with her new role.

“It took me a little bit to get used to it,” she said. “I had a couple bad innings and now I’m starting to understand I can relax. I have more than just eight people, nine people behind me it’s the entire team.

“I know if Regan or McKenna (Kostelecky) or Nellie come in for me, I know they’re going to do great.”

Fleury added: “She’s done a great job. She stepped up into a roll that we needed her to step up into and that’s what she’s done. She throws strikes for us and she gives us a chance and she keeps batters off balance.”

DSU’s offense backed up Morgan and scored two runs in the first and three runs each in the second and fifth innings. Lopez went 2 for 3 with two doubles, two runs and two RBI and Vargas also had two runs and two RBI.

Black Hills pitcher Kaitlin Farrar started in the circle and allowed eight runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings before Stefanie Witman came in for relief. Witman gave up one hit, walked five batters and struck out one.

The Blue Hawks go on the road for its final series against the University of Jamestown. The doubleheader is begins at 1 p.m. on Thursday.

“They talk with their performance and take control of the game early and it’s fun to be around and to watch them play,” Fleury said about her team. “We’re not going to change anything we’re doing and hope to continue this on.”

BHS 000 00 — 0 3 2

DSU 742 0x — 13 14 1

BHS, Stefanie Witman, Savannah Eckhardt (1) and Sara Schmid. DSU, Regan Lawrence and Brianna Grayson.

W–Lawrence. L–Witman. HR–DSU, Lindsey Sullivan, Alex Vargas, Janell LaRont and Kailey Olcott.

Highlights: BHS, Erica Everson 1 for 1, Katherine Drake 1 for 2, Schmid 1 for 2. DSU, Sullivan 3 for 3, HR, (2)2B, 3 RBI, 2 runs; Grayson 3 for 3, 2B, SB, 2 runs, RBI; LaRont 2 for 2, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 runs; Vargas 1 for 3, HR, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Justeena Gutierrez 2 for 2, 2B, run, RBI; Olcott 1 for 2, HR, 2 RBI, run; Rebecca Lopez 1 for 3, 2B, run; Lawence 1 for 3, run, RBI; Monique Yslas run.

BHS 000 00 — 0 6 2

DSU 230 03 — 8 9 0

BHS, Kaitlin Farrar, Witman (4) and Everson. DSU, Tiffany Morgan and Grayson.

W–Morgan. L–Farrar. HR–none.

Highlights: BHS, Rebecca Green, 1 for 3; Katie Campo 1 for 1; Everson 1 for 2, 2B; Brooke Grant 1 for 2; Nia Shumpert 1 for 2; Schmid 1 for 2. DSU, Lopez 2 for 3, (2)2B, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Vargas 2 for 4, 2B, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Sullivan 2 for 3, 2B, run, RBI; Yslas 2 for 4, run, RBI, 2B; Gutierrez 1 for 3, run.

Morgan, Gutierrez honored as Frontier Conference pitcher, player of the week

After another successful week of softball, and finishing 6-0 against University of Jamestown and Valley City State, Dickinson State junior pitcher and sophomore left fielder Justeena Gutierrez have been named the Frontier Conference pitcher and player of the week.

In 13 innings pitched, Morgan gave up seven runs and 13 hits. Gutierrez batted .611 for the week and picked up 11 hits, three RBI and five runs in 18 at-bats. Of her 11 hits, eight were for extra bases.

This is the second week in a row two players from DSU have been nominated for pitcher and player of the week.

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  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 and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.