MINOT - The Dickinson High and Minot High softball teams ended the 2018 campaign against one another during the Class A State Tournament championship game.
One year later, with significantly lower stakes, the two West Region programs met again to close another season.
Powered by solid defense and standout performances from their freshmen, the Midgets jumped out to an early advantage before holding on for a 5-3 victory over the Majettes during the state fifth-place game on Saturday, June 1, from the South Hill Complex.
"We were expecting bigger things besides third place in conference and fifth place at state, but it's our first year ever going out with two wins in a row, so that was kind of fun to see that happen," Dickinson head coach Amanda Mickey said. "It's easy to give up when all you have to fight for is fifth place, but we're going to get better. We're a good team, we're so much better than how we performed, but it's not all about the wins and losses, it's about the lifetime experiences and friendships that we have. We have love for each other and it was a fun season."
After a scoreless first inning, freshman outfielder Reese Hauck stepped to the plate against sophomore pitcher Paige Ackerman with one on and out down in the second. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Hauck lifted a high fly ball over the left field for a two-run home run, scoring junior outfielder Emy Personne, who previously reached on a single.
In the sixth inning, Hauck needed two pitches to get to Ackerman, blasting a solo home run to center field to put the Midgets up 5-0.
"As a coach at third base, you can totally tell how a kid is going to do with their at-bat just by the way the demeanor is, and she went up to bat totally relaxed," Mickey said. "The first pitch (of her first at-bat) she saw, right down the middle and she crushed it over the fence. ... She's going to be just clutch for us in the future and it was so cool to see her take care of business and help her team out as a freshman."
Getting the start in right field, freshman Taya Hopfauf drove in the two other runs with a two-run RBI single in the fourth. Over the course of the tournament, Hopfauf went 4-for-10 with a pair of home runs, five RBIs and two runs scored. Her production earned her a spot on the All-Tournament team.
Gifted with run support, freshman Mataya Mortensen was dominant through her first six frames in the pitcher's circle. Facing the minimum in the first, third, fourth and fifth, the right-hander allowed just three hits to that point without giving up a walk.
"It was good to see her end the season with a good win like that," Mickey said. "To see her confident on the mound, you know that she could do this all-year long, it's just a matter of finding her groove and her teammates having her back and playing flawless defense. She just hit her spots really, really well today."
Defense had Mortensen's back, highlighted by a play to end the top of the fourth. Minot junior infielder Cambrie Pretzer laced a line drive into right. Normally a catcher, Hopfauf scooped up the ball in the outfield and fired a strike to first, throwing out Pretzer before she could reach the bag at first.
Mortensen and the Midgets defense have their hiccups in the seventh.
Senior outfielder Hailey Espe put the Majettes on the board with an RBI single. Next, freshman pinch hitter Abigail Barnum grounded to Kamryn Kuntz at third. While the senior was quick enough to make the initial play, Kuntz was charged with an error after her throw allowed Minot to close to within 5-2.
Three batters later, junior outfielder Jailee Britt knocked in an RBI single, and suddenly, the Majettes had the top of the order up and the go-ahead run at the plate in the form of Landry Maragos. The junior outfielder didn't waste anytime, swinging at Mortensen's first offering. Shortstop Kali Kubas was in perfect position though, as the freshman made the stop to end the game.
With the victory, Dickinson ended the season with a 26-10 record. The Midgets have won 25 or more games during each of the five years under Mickey.
"This year didn't turn out 100 percent the way we wanted it to, but I believe we, as a team, grew together," Mickey said. "Our young kids got a lot of reps under their belt. Our seniors left us in a good place, they did a great job as leaders and teaching the young ones how to go out there and play your heart out."
Class A Girls Softball State Tournament - Consolation Championship
#3W Dickinson 5, #4W Minot 3
M 000 000 3 - 3 8 0
D 022 001 x - 5 11 1
M: Paige Ackerman (7.0) and Taylee Hertz. D: Mataya Mortensen (7.0) and Kennedy Kuntz.
W-Mortensen. L-Ackerman. HR-Reese Hauck 2.
Highlights: M: Hailey Espe 2-3, RBI; Jailee Britt, 1-3, RBI; Cambrie Pretzer 2-3. D: Mortensen 7 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 3 R (2 ER), 3 K, 0-2, BB; Hauck 2-2, 2 HR, BB, 3 RBI, 2 R, SB; Taya Hopfauf 2-3, 2 RBI; Kuntz 2-4, R; Brianna Ashworth 2-4, 2B.