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DSU softball goes 1-1 in split against Waldorf

After just falling 3-2 in the first matchup, the Blue Hawks bounced back to deliver a 7-0 shutout in round two.

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Dickinson State ends its first day of conference with a 1-1 split against Waldorf University. (File Image/The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson State pulled into Forest City, Iowa, ready to make some in its first two games of conference play against the Waldorf Warriors. While the first game did not go quite as planned for Dickinson State, the team held its head high and let loose in the second game in what could only be described as pure dominance.

The Blue Hawks (12-6 overall, 1-1 NSAA) proved to still be one of the top teams in the NSAA in its first day of conference play against the Warriors (3-9 overall, 1-1 NSAA) with its first game being a narrow 3-2 defeat followed by an overwhelming 7-0 shutout in game two.

"It was a good bounce back from the first game," Blue Hawks' Head Coach Kristen Fleury said.

Despite having a losing record, the Warriors were eager to not start conference play on a sour note and played to the best of its abilities against one the most talented teams in the conference. On the flip side, the Blue Hawks were determined to continue its five-game win streak and start conference play in fashion.

The first game showed the best of both sides in that aspect.

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After a scoreless first inning, Blue Hawks' junior Emilie Sickler drilled the ball into left center, recording her an two RBI at-bat and giving the Blue Hawks a 2-0 lead to start the day.

In need of an answer, Waldorf responded with a towering two-run homer by Kassidy Elyea to tie the game at two. The game would continue to be tied at two until the bottom of the sixth when Warriors' Kaela Eslinger knocked another ball past the warning track for a solo homer.

Dickinson State was unable to counter with a run of its own, resulting in a 3-2 loss.

Dickinson State's Madeline Peralta pitched all of the Blue Hawks' six innings and only allowed four hits in the game, two being the home runs, and walked only one batter. It was her first loss of the season, which gives her a record of 4-1.

Fleury discussed what she saw in the first game that may have led to the proximate defeat.

"We got to play to another team’s weakness and I think we had a lot of opportunities to put the ball in play and use the short game and our speed to our advantage and we didn’t do in the first game," she said. "We were trying to swing for the gaps a little too much instead of being a triple threat at the plate."

After falling just short in the previous game, Dickinson State came out with a heated fire in the second game that was too hot for the Warriors to ever put out.

Sophomore Hailey Enriquez started the scoring spree for the Blue Hawks with an RBI double, driving home sophomore Rhea Paiva and advancing pitcher Paisley Garcia to third. Junior Katelyn Kubitschek recorded a sacrifice RBI by getting out but advancing Garcia home and Enriquez to third.

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Later in the inning, freshman Cassidy Venner added to the lead with another RBI sacrifice by scoring freshman Kamryn Kuntz and allowing Dallis Mitchell to advance to third. Kuntz would later score on a fielding error which brought the Blue Hawks to a 4-0 lead to end the first inning.

The Blue Hawks would score only one run in the second on an RBI by Enriquez and two more in the third on a two run RBI double by Ashley Nash.

With strong pitching by Garcia, who gave up six hits against 26 batters with two strikeouts and three walks, and strong defense by the Blue Hawks, Waldorf was never able to reach home, resulting in a well deserved 7-0 shutout victory for Dickinson State.

"For the kids to bounce back and go up 4-0 in that second game was huge and kind of set the tone and the momentum," Fleury said. "In that second game, our top of our lineup really bought into that and it’s a whole different game when you get your lead off batter on base and that’s what Rae had did and we just kind of did the little things right that we ask them to do every day. It worked out for us."

While the team ended the day in a 1-1 split, Fleury was very happy with what her pitchers did at the mound.

" Paisley and Maddie have done a great job for us and they’ve given us a chance to win in every game we’ve played," she said. "They don’t have a lot of strikeouts but they batters off balance and when we play defense behind them."

Due to a rainout on Saturday, the Blue Hawks will get another double header against the Warriors on Monday. With the second game ending in high fashion for Dickinson State, Fleury is looking forward to what the team has to offer in its second day of conference play.

"Obviously when you finish the day on a win it’s better than finishing the day on a loss," she said. "I think it’s kind of given us some momentum going into tomorrow but they’re going to come out hungry too. It’s their home game, they had a big crowd game one and I think we just got a little complacent and we got to grind. We’ve got five kids out of the lineup right now and so we’re just trying to find different ways to win and kids got to step up and we got to grind."

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First pitch for Monday's conference games between Dickinson State and Waldorf is scheduled for 9 a.m. MST with game two to follow sometime after the first.

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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