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Dickinson ready to open home schedule

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson senior Haley Butterfield pitches against Bismarck Century on April 4, 2013 at Gress Softball Complex.

By Royal McGregor

Through the first five games of the season, the Dickinson High softball team doesn’t have many complaints.

The Midgets are 5-0 which includes a pair of West Region wins over Bismarck Century and back-to-back double digit victories over Dawson County (Mont.) and Sidney (Mont.).

However, Dickinson is eager to play its first home game of the season against Bismarck High at 4 p.m. today at Gress Softball Complex.

“So far, the girls have picked up right where we left off,” Dickinson head coach Bill Butterfield said. “Early in the season, we’ve had a couple no error or one error games. That’s really good. A lot of work that they’ve done in the offseason and preseason seems to be paying off.”

The Midgets lost three starters — Madi Steier, Jess Priebe and Briana Farnsworth — from last season, which finished third place at the state tournament. The third-place finish was the best in program history.

Though Dickinson only lost three starters, they were big bats in the middle of the lineup. Priebe batted No. 2, Farnsworth was clean up and Steier hit in the No. 5 spot.

“They were three starters that were in the meat of the lineup,” Butterfield said. “Those are big shoes to fill, no matter who or where you are at.”

Dickinson has 11 seniors on its roster and nearly every player has varsity experience.

The 11 seniors are Avery Privratsky, Haley Butterfield, Jamee Ludwick, Lexi Yates, Mackee Hoffmann, Rachel Jahner, Rachel Silkey, Riana Cooper, Riley Cooper, Sierra Rohr and Y’mani Freeman. The rest of the roster is four sophomores — Emilie Sickler, Taylor Privratsky, Katie Lafond and Madison Jahner.

The Midgets not only return a host of position players but its two top pitchers — Haley Butterfield and Madison Jahner.

In the first five games, Haley Butterfield and Madison Jahner are in midseason form. Butterfield has a 3-0 record with an earned run average of less than two. Jahner is 2-0 and pitched a no-hitter against Sidney.

“We can always be consistent, even if we are having a bad day, we don’t have to have a terrible day, we can turn it around and fix it,” said Haley Butterfield, who is signed to play softball at Bismarck State College beginning next fall. “It’s really good that we’ve been playing with each other for a very long, so we can feed off each other and help each when we need it.”

The Midgets’ offense hasn’t been slacking either. The team is scoring an average of 8.2 runs per game.

Yet, Bill Butterfield said the team hasn’t quite hit its offensive stride. As a team, Dickinson is batting around .200.

“Our hits have been timely,” he said. “People that are expected to hit are hitting. It’s early in the season and they haven’t seen a lot of live pitching yet.”

Dickinson’s biggest lift offensively has come from senior catcher Mackee Hoffmann. The senior has belted three home runs, hit safely in all five games and drove in 10 RBI.

Hoffmann is two seasons removed from tearing her ACL in basketball of her sophomore year. She said there are good days and bad days, but either way she just wants to compete.

“Some days I feel really confident in my knee and some days I don’t, but I always to get out there and play,” said Hoffmann, who is batting .500 on the season. “It doesn’t have any effect on me when I’m trying to play.”

For the players on Dickinson’s roster, each knows exactly how unpredictable a North Dakota winter can be. The Midgets have already rescheduled three doubleheaders this season.

Haley Butterfield said whether the Midgets are playing outside or are forced to practice inside, the team has to keep the same mindset every day.

“Even when it warms up like it did (Monday), I didn’t really expect too much because two days from now it could be snowing,” Haley Butterfield said with a smile. “You have to ready to be inside or outside and not let that affect your mental game.”