MINOT - The Dickinson High softball team lost to Bismarck Century 14-9 in a West Region semifinal around 11:15 p.m. CT Friday evening. Less than 12 hours later, freshman starter Mataya Mortensen threw the first pitch of a state-qualifying game.
The Midgets showed little signs of exhaustion, as they generated nine runs on 14 hits to earn a 9-3 victory over Bismarck Legacy on Saturday, May 25, at the South Hill Complex. The win gave Dickinson a spot at the Class A State Softball Tournament for the eighth consecutive season. The state tournament will be played on the same turf next weekend.
Singles from seniors Kailey Weigel and Taryn Allmaras put a run on the board for the Sabers in the first inning.
The Midgets had a hit in each of the first three innings, but nothing broke through. Not senior first baseman Briana Ashworth's single that she followed with a steal of second in the first frame. Not a second-inning double by junior second baseman Ali Lafond that pushed junior extra hitter Taylor Nelson to third. Even when Ashworth doubled to center in the third, the Midgets couldn't produce.
"My kids, they're so easy to put pressure on themselves and I think they're just trying to get that big hit," Dickinson head coach Amanda Mickey said. "They just need to do the little things right and keep doing what they've been doing all year, keep making solid contact and do what they can to move runners around. (They need to) have confidence at the plate."
In the fourth, Lafond singled with two outs and waited for someone to bring her home.
Freshman Reese Hauck did just that. After back-to-back-to-back fouls, the left fielder ripped the third 0-2 pitch of her at-bat over the center field wall, homering to put the Midgets up 2-1.
Next, senior right fielder Kennedy Kuntz tripled and was plated with a single from her sister, senior third baseman Kamryn Kuntz.
"Finally someone broke it open. Reese did a fantastic job getting that home run and getting us on the board," Mickey said. "I think a lot of the pressure was they scored in the first inning and we hadn't gotten any solid hits and strung them together. Reese, she's been struggling a little bit at the plate, came through with a huge hit with two strikes on her. She got the ball rolling. Once my team starts hitting, they're pretty contagious."
An RBI single from Weigel scored junior Ellie Miller to get the Sabers within one, but a six-run fifth inning gave the Midgets the advantage they needed to win.
Lafond, Hauck, Ashworth and freshman starting pitcher Mataya Mortensen each put up RBI singles in the effort.
Mortensen went the distance, allowing three runs on nine hits, while walking three walks and four strikeouts. While Mickey said the ace still isn't throwing her best, she keeps the team in the game, and the defense behind her certainly helped.
After committing some costly errors in recent games, the Midgets kept a goose egg under the E on the scoreboard against Legacy.
"All year, we got to do the little things right. Kamryn had some good plays, Kali (Kubas) did too," Mickey said. "Our infield was solid. Outfield made the routine plays in the outfield."
Kamryn Kuntz, Mortensen and Hopfauf were named to the All-WDA team.
No. 3 Dickinson 9, No. 5 Bismarck Legacy 3
BL 100 011 0 - 3 9 0
D 000 360 X - 9 14 0
BL, Casey Lovsness (3.2), Tori Olson (2.1) and Ellie Miller. D, Mataya Mortensen and Taya Hopfauf.
W-Mortensen. L-Olson. HR-D, Reese Hauck.
Highlights: BL, Mackenzie Boone 2-2, 2B, R; Kailey Weigel 3-4, R, RBI; Lovsness 3.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB. D, Hauck 2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI; Ali Lafond 3-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI; Briana Ashworth 3-3, 2B, R, RBI; Kennedy Kuntz 2-4, 2B, 2 R; Kamryn Kuntz 1-4, RBI; Hopfauf 1-4; Taylor Nelson 1-3; Mortensen 1-3, R, RBI, 7 IP, 9 H, 3 R (3 ER), 4 K, 3 BB.