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DSU has relied on more than just big guns to win

The Dickinson State softball team has its share of stars with the ability to single-handedly change games. Jody Lantz and Nikki Marcoux hit home runs and consistently drive base runners home. Pitchers Sara Jane Webster and Mehgan Shaw hurl strike...

The Dickinson State softball team has its share of stars with the ability to single-handedly change games.

Jody Lantz and Nikki Marcoux hit home runs and consistently drive base runners home. Pitchers Sara Jane Webster and Mehgan Shaw hurl strikeouts and shut down opposing teams.

But what about the rest of the Blue Hawks?

What role does Kelly Jahn play in DSU coach Guy Fridley's master plan? For that matter, where's the love for outfielders Amanda Mickey and Ashley Neufeld?

The three were all-Dakota Athletic Conference selections this season.

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And even though they've played key roles in several of DSU's wins, they aren't the players most likely to grab headlines or make the nightly news highlight reels.

Instead, they're members of a dynamic supporting cast that has accepted their roles and prides themselves on teamwork and the ability to emerge from the shadows of the team's All-American candidates.

"It's amazing," Jahn said. "With our team, we can rely on anyone to step up. ... It's not always the same people over and over, and that's what makes our team so great. Anyone can step up at any time."

Entering this week's NAIA National Tournament, Jahn is hitting .425 as the Blue Hawks' designated player and batting seventh in the lineup.

Despite enjoying a breakout national tournament as a freshman and having a strong sophomore season, Jahn has managed to remain a concealed bat near the bottom of the Blue Hawks' lineup.

"She was hidden behind the spotlight. She was behind all the big names," Fridley said. "Kelly's been a pleasure to watch grow because we expected Kelly to do great things for us in her career."

Along with Jahn, the Blue Hawks have put together a young and humble stable of players who seem fine staying out of the spotlight if it means more victories.

"I like playing under S.J.," said Mickey, a junior who bats leadoff and is hitting .336 with 11 doubles. "I don't have any pressure on my shoulders. I just go out there and do what I can do and play my game."

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Fridley believes the team's cohesive and tight-knit mentality has helped ease any issues supporting players might have had with the team's standouts.

"You've got to have those players who are willing to give up that spotlight and give it to others," Fridley said.

Meanwhile, sophomore catcher Jenna Eger knows the Blue Hawks wouldn't be in the position they are without the performances of the team's unsung heroes.

"You can't win with just big-name people," Eger said. "It takes a whole team to be successful."

She couldn't be more accurate.

The Blue Hawks have a .368 team batting average - that's 10th best in the NAIA - and average nearly 10 hits a game.

Not all of that is coming from the big bats in the lineup either.

Ashley Neufeld, a speedy center fielder who hits at the bottom of the order, is batting .357 with 21 RBI. Eger, meanwhile, bats .333 despite playing in two-thirds of the Blue Hawks' games.

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"There's never a certain person," freshman shortstop Jessica Huseby said. "It's always someone different who wins the game or changes something.

"Even coach has said there's always someone different in each game that pulls through and does something good. It's not just the same person every time. That's what makes a good team."

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