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Climactic end leave Midgets stunned

DHS faced Bismarck Century in the WDA final that proved to be a nail-biter with no runs completed in the first six innings.

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Jenna Decker console Ava Jahner after striking out, ending the game in the Patriots' favor. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson)

Through the regular season there was only one WDA team that found success over the Dickinson softball team, Bismarck Century. The two teams met once again in the WDA final and unfortunately for the Midgets they were unable to find redemption.

The final was climatic to the last inning with both teams unable to add any runs onto the scoreboard with pitchers leaving players on base. The deciding results would come in the seventh with the game ending 0-5 and Century as the WDA champions.

The defensive game showed two teams with audacious dugouts that supported their batters even when forced-out or struck out. There were in total 19 strikeouts, nine of those are to Ava Jahner’s credit, while Century’s senior pitcher Madison Zander collected 10. Zander allowed six hits over zero runs and didn’t have any walks.

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Mataya Mortensen records an out after a bunt from Century's batter. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)

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Jahner worked to settle her nerves that arose in closing the semi-final game against Jamestown, but the final would prove to be a larger lesson for the freshman. Jahner had five hits over five runs. She had four walks and made no errors in the circle but faced hot bats from the Patriots that would eventually break down the Midgets' defense.

On the offensive side, Jenna Decker, Mataya Mortensen, Amy Fridley, Kali Kubas and Baylee Berg all made connection with the pitch, leading to hits. Berg made it all the way to third off of a line drive at the bottom of the fifth but was unable to be sent home as Dickinson gained their last two outs from Fridley and Jahner being struck out.

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Baylee Berg triples from a line drive. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)

Century gained the upper hand in the final inning with a dropped third strike after a lineup change replacing Jaycie Clarke for Ashlyn Schumacher at bat. Prior to this there were already two outs and players on first and second from a walk and hit by pitch. When Brooklyn Morris stepped up to the plate, bases were loaded and from a fly ball she brought in all three of her teammates while getting a double.

“Going into the seventh inning with the score all tied up, that's the moments you live for, those are when the real athletes come out and shine,” Taya Hopfauf, Midgets catcher said. “We made some mistakes and they just made us pay for them and that is what happens when good teams get into those situations.”

Two more runs would follow before the third out by Hopfauf catching a pop out and the Dickinson side would try to rally. After two outs, Hauck would find herself on third and Fridley on first. Once again Jahner, at the plate, would recognize herself in the center of a critical moment but unfortunately she would strike out ending the game. As the Patriots rushed the field in celebration, Decker made sure to console Jahner as they walked back to the dugout.

The Midgets held their heads high as they left the diamond, still determine to win the state title. The state tournament will begin Thursday, June 03 in Mandan at the Fort Lincoln Field. Dickinson will face West Fargo Sheyenne at 1 p.m. Central Time.

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“We just have to come back knowing that hitting the ball is how you win and we definitely struggled with that today but we know that state is still ahead of us,” Hopfauf said. “We knew going into this game was going to be tough, we knew we had another week ahead of us no matter what the outcome was. Now we just have to let this one go and come back and be stronger than ever.”

Related Topics: SOFTBALL
Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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