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Heart River softball dominates Hazen in 33 run game 

Hazen's pitching allowed for 19 walks, 8 HbP and 21 earned runs in a total collapse performance against state contending Cougars.

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Seventh grader Kylie Wyman battles with the pitcher on a full count. Heart River beats Hazen with a 32-1 blowout victory.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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SOUTH HEART, N.D. — The Heart River softball team's dominating win streak was halted by Beulah in last Thursday's 10-3 defeat. The Cougars didn't dwell on the loss and came back ready to pounce. Hazen was quickly stalked and torn apart by the Cougars in a lopsided 32-1 defeat at Heart River’s home field on Monday.

The one-sided affair presented itself early on with the Cougars (4-1, 4-1), taking advantage of the Bison's (1-3,1-4) numerous walks and fielding errors. By the end of the first inning the lead was an already astonishing 17-0. The margin would only continue to grow until the fifth inning, when via a mercy rule, the game came to an end.

“I wasn't sure how we were going to rebound,” Heart River head coach Kendra Schillo said. “That was a tough loss. We did not play really well, had a lot of mental errors and we really needed to clean up. I wasn't sure how we would respond, but the girls were very excited to get back on the diamond and get that bad taste of the loss out of our mouth, so to speak, they really reacted, fought hard and set the tone early.”

Three pitchers shared the circle for Heart River, seniors Meg Silbernagel, Taylar Fagerberg and also Meg Silbernagel’s eighth grade sister, Gretchen Silbernagel.

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Senior first baseman Taylar Fagerberg relieved starter Meg Silbernagel from the circle and in two innings would retired three batters and walk none.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

With their starting catcher freshman Abbey Conery away in a family matter, Meg Silbernagel went behind the plate after pitching two perfect innings, given the special moment of catching for her sister in the final inning. The three pitchers tallied 10 strikeouts, four of which were delivered by Gretchen Silbernagel.

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The third senior that completes the trio is Briley Boltz, who gave a strong performance in the batter’s box and in the shortstop position. She had a double, three RBIs and five runs on offense and tallied two groundouts on the field.

“Briley is a type of kid who will do whatever you ask of her,” Schillo said. “She usually bats fifth or sixth for us, but with Abbey gone she slotted into that lead-off spot for us and we didn't miss a beat.”

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Freshman Aspen Jarrett holding down first base for Heart River in their blowout victory over Hazen at home on Monday, May 2.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

As gruesome as the blowout was, Schillo offered words of confidence and camaraderie to the Hazen squad after the game, pointing out that Heart River was once in their shoes.

“It's interesting because eight years ago that was us,” Schillo said. “I asked Hazen’s coach if I could talk to his players and he said ‘sure.’ and I just said, ‘Somebody has to be the first.’ It's tough to be the first and it's tough to start out and you take your lumps, but then you can build it into something pretty cool.”

The Bison softball team are in their first year in the varsity arena and their assistant coach, Addison Olson knows all too well of the growing pains of a starting program as she was a senior shortstop for Schillo as a Cougars in its early developments.

Both Schillo and Olson were able to appreciate the significance of Hazen’s defeat as a common mile marker for most programs. The two shared a moment of reminiscence of the work that came before and at the same time, a glimpse of what comes ahead.

“You live it day-by-day, but when you look back on it and realize just how much we have come is a pretty cool thing,” Schillo said. “And I am excited for Hazen, they have a group of young girls that work really hard and they have a bright future.”

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Hazen's relief pitcher seventh grader Devin Weisz. Heart River beat Hazen in a 32-1 home game on Monday, May 2.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

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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