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Preparing for battle: Midgets host Bismarck Century in key West Region doubleheader

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson softball coach Bill Butterfield, middle left, talks with his players between innings against Jamestown on April 24 at Gress Softball Complex. The Midgets host Bismarck Century for a West Region doubleheader beginning at 4:30 p.m. today.

By Royal McGregor

The Dickinson High softball team is preparing for a battle as Bismarck Century comes to town.

The West Region doubleheader is their second meeting this season.

Bill Butterfield, the Midgets’ sixth-year head coach, said the team wants to play the best teams every week. The doubleheader begins at 4:30 p.m. today at Gress Softball Complex.

“Anytime we play Century, it’s going to be a battle,” he said. “No matter who is playing what and where. It always seems like when Century and Dickinson get together there are good ball games. If it’s a high scoring game, it’s 15-14 and if it’s a low scoring game, it’s 2-1. It’s always seems to be close.”

The Midgets are 11-0 overall and 8-0 in the West Region.

The 11-0 start is a far cry from the team’s first season in 2009. The Midgets finished their inaugural campaign with a 0-24 record. Over the next six years, Dickinson continued to pick up more wins and has placed at the state tournament in back-to-back seasons.

“One of our main goals in that first year was to get better every day. Even though we were 0-24, I can honestly say we got better every day,” Butterfield said. “That’s been our goal all the way through, is to get better every day. Right now, we’re still trying to get better and that’s the only way you are going to become good.”

In last year’s state tournament, the Midgets defeated the Patriots for third place — the highest finish in school history.

Dickinson swept the Patriots in their previous doubleheader by three combined runs. The Midgets know sweeping Century again isn’t going to be an easy task.

“The last games we played against them were close and it went right down until the end,” Dickinson senior shortstop Rachel Jahner said. “We have to show up and be mentally prepared.”

Early in the season, Dickinson has relied on their pitching staff featuring senior Haley Butterfield and sophomore Madison Jahner. Haley Butterfield has a 6-0 record, while Madison Jahner is 5-0. The two have limited their opponents to 1.3 runs per game.

Madison Jahner, who has thrown a pair of no-hitters this season, said getting comfortable in the circle didn’t take very long.

“Pitching with Haley is great,” she said. “I know she has my back and she knows I have her back. If something is going wrong, I can always ask her for some help.

“I got into it pretty quickly. Usually it takes a little longer, but this season things just started to roll.”

On the flipside, the offense is starting to take shape as the team continues to see more live pitching. Rachel Jahner said it was a struggle at first, but everyone is getting more disciplined at the plate.

The Midgets have scored 10 or more runs in their past four games. Dickinson has scored double-digit runs in six of its 11 games. The Midgets are averaging 10.1 runs per game.

“At times, we were struggling at the plate,” Rachel Jahner said. “We just had to be patient and let the time come. When it did, it just felt good to finally get that break.”