Tournament season is upon us, and unlike 2018, the Dickinson High baseball team has a strong chance to make it to state, while the softball team may not be a shoo-in like last year's dominant squad.
Both the baseball and softball teams are the No. 3 seed, so while their position hints at a state berth, it'll still have to be earned, making for some undoubtedly competitive contests.
Here's how the day-one matchups look:
Softball: No. 3 Dickinson vs. No. 6 Jamestown
The Midgets will compete in the final game of day one against Jamestown on Thursday, May 23, at 5 p.m. CT at the South Hill Complex.
Dickinson, who was voted No. 1 in the preseason poll, boasts a 22-8 overall record, going 12-6 against West Region opponents, while the girls in blue and white went 15-11 overall and 10-8 versus WDA teams.
The teams have met just once over the season, splitting a doubleheader from Jamestown. In game one, the Blue Jays were victorious 3-1, using sophomore pitcher Payton Gall to elude the Dickinson bats, which produced just three hits.
In game two, the Midgets turned an early 7-4 deficit into a 10-7 win. Midgets freshman pitcher Mataya Mortensen threw 10 ⅓ innings over the pair of games, so the Blue Jays will be familiar with her.
"They're a tough team. I'm gonna take them like they have the upper hand, only because you can't take anybody lightly," Dickinson head coach Amanda Mickey said.
The Blue Jays, like the Midgets are prone to massive spurts of offense, scoring 96 runs in their first six games. However, by season's end, Jamestown averaged 10.7 runs per game, while Dickinson scored 13.3.
While the Midgets have had a few sloppy games, the Blue Jays are quite prone to errors, averaging just over three per game, recording just one game this year without an official mistake.
"They're somebody we have to play tough defense against and make minimal errors to zero errors," Mickey said. "We have to out-play them defensively. Hitting wise, I think we're comparatively just as good, if not better."
Players to watch: Sophomore Ella Roaldson is the big hitter for Jamestown, going 10-18 in her last four games, putting up a double, a home run and seven RBI. Gall will more than likely be the starter for the Blue Jays. Despite her youth, she's an accomplished thrower.
If the Midgets defeat the Blue Jays, they'll play the winner of the earlier matchup between No. 2 Bismarck Century and No. 7 Mandan. The Patriots and No. 1 Bismarck High are 16-2 against conference opponents and both picked up a pair of wins against Dickinson.
Baseball: No. 3 Dickinson vs. No. 6 Minot
The Midgets baseball team will face Minot in the final game on Thursday, May 23, at the Sanford Sports Complex in Bismarck.
Dickinson accrued a 13-11 overall record, including 12-6 against West Region opponents, while Minot posted a 17-11 overall record, going 10-8 in conference matchups.
The Magicians and Midgets met just last week on May 16, at Corbett Field, with Minot taking each game by 10 runs, 12-2 and 11-1.
"Everything went wrong. There's pretty much three facets to the game. You got to be able to pitch, you got to be able to hit and you got to be able to play defense, and all three of those were lacking in that doubleheader," Dickinson head coach Pete Dobitz said. "It was by far not our best outing."
Despite Dickinson holding the higher seed, Minot has the upper hand statistically. The Magicians average just over seven runs on nine hits per game, while committing 1.7 errors per game. Meanwhile, the Midgets scored 5.8 runs on 6.3 hits and commit 2.5 errors per game.
The Midgets are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, while Minot has won five of its last six games. That being said, it has been a week since the teams last took to the diamond.
"I do believe in momentum," Dobitz said. "I told the boys that they're a hot team right now, but all it takes is a good pitching performance to shut down what they've been doing offensively."
The Midgets will rely on starter senior Morgan Wardner to do so. Among the four Dickinson starters with 20 or more innings of work this season, Wardner has the lowest ERA of 1.54 and has struck out 28 batters and allowed 15 runs over 31 ⅔ innings.
"Morgan's done a really good job when it comes to games that are pivotal or instrumental and just buckling down," Dobitz said. "His best outing was a loss, it was a 3-1 loss to Williston ... on the road, tough environment. He kept us in the game and we kept shooting ourselves in the foot on the basepaths and not executing offensively. He definitely had an opportunity to beat the No. 1 team, but we fell short."
Players to watch: Seniors Kyler Stenberg and Alex Schimke pace Minot, with Stenberg going 5-for-8 with three triples and a double in the doubleheader against Dickinson. Schimke pitched all five innings of game one while going 1-for-1 at the plate with a home run, three runs scored, an RBI and three walks.