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Midgets hold off Mustangs to open state softball tournament

MANDAN -- It was shaky in the beginning, and nerve-wracking at the end, but it ended with smiles. The Dickinson High softball team mounted a comeback in the middle innings of its Class A state tournament quarterfinal game against West Fargo Sheye...

Dickinson High senior Abby Jones swings at a pitch against West Fargo Sheyenne on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class A state softball tournament. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High senior Abby Jones swings at a pitch against West Fargo Sheyenne on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class A state softball tournament. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

MANDAN - It was shaky in the beginning, and nerve-wracking at the end, but it ended with smiles.

The Dickinson High softball team mounted a comeback in the middle innings of its Class A state tournament quarterfinal game against West Fargo Sheyenne on Thursday, scoring two runs in each frame from the third through the fifth, and the Midgets held off the Mustangs in the final two innings for a 6-5 victory at Ft. Lincoln Elementary School.

After falling behind 3-0 in the first three innings, Dickinson's three-pack of two-run innings gave the Midgets a 6-3 cushion.

A two-run single from Shay Weber got the Mustangs back within 6-5 in the top of the sixth inning.

Once junior Dickinson pitcher Amber Sickler issued her seventh walk of the game to start the top of the seventh inning, senior Abby Jones relived her in the circle and got the final three outs, preserving the win and sending the Midgets to Friday's semifinal game against West Fargo, the top seed out of the East Region.

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"You've got to kill their momentum somehow, and I feel like bringing in a new pitcher kind of changes their outlook," Dickinson head coach Amanda Mickey said of the late pitching change.

Sickler earned the win after working six innings and allowing seven hits with seven strikeouts.

Sickler pitched around traffic in each inning. Early on, the biggest hits were an RBI double by Morgan Geiszler in the top of the first and a two-run home run from Geiszler in the top of the third.

It was the bottom of the third, however, that Dickinson got back into it. Senior Sarah Dobitz and junior Jordie McNeilly each brought in runs to cut the lead to 3-2.

In the next inning, sophomore Gabby Jung singled to score Ali Lafond to tie the game, and Jones followed with a sacrifice fly to score Kamryn Kuntz for the go-ahead run.

"It made Amber believe that we really did have her back," Jones said of the team's timely offense. "We knew we would put runs on the board for her. I think we had to get used to the pitcher, get her timing down and we were good."

McNeilly added an RBI double to score Dobitz in the fifth inning, and senior Paige Schweitzer followed with a single to score McNeilly.

Jones, Dobitz and McNeilly all had two hits, but the lineup was working all the way through.

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"I think we were putting together really good at-bats," Mickey said.

Lafond had one hit from the sixth spot, Kuntz went 3 for 3 in the eight-hole and Jung went 2 for 3 in the ninth spot.

"It means a lot when the bottom of the order can hit the pitcher because that means the whole team can," Jung said. "That gives everybody more confidence in themselves."

The Midgets will face 19-time defending champion West Fargo at 4 p.m. CT Friday in the semifinals. Dickinson has lost the last two state championships to the Packers by scores of 13-0 and 6-2, and the Midgets are thankful to get another shot at them.

They've been ready for the rematch for a while.

"We're ready to play West Fargo," Jung said. "Definitely."

 

Dickinson High 6, West Fargo Sheyenne 5

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WFS 102 002 0 - 5 7 1

DHS 002 220 X - 6 13 2

WFS: Regan Jastram (5.0), Kiley Washnieski (1.0) and Emma Johnson. DHS: Amber Sickler (6.0), Abby Jones (1.0) and Jordie McNeilly.

W-Sickler. L-Jastram. HR-WFS: Morgan Geiszler.

Highlights: WFS, Geiszler 2-2, HR, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB; Shay Weber 1-3, 1 R, 2 RBI; Jastram 2-3; Johnson 1-4, 1 R. DHS, McNeilly 2-4, 2B, 1 R, 2 RBI; Sarah Dobitz 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI; Kamryn Kuntz 3-3, 1 R; Gabby Jung 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI; Ali Lafond 1-3, 1 R; Paige Schweitzer 1-3, 1 RBI; Jones 2-4, 2B, 1 R, 1 RBI; Sickler 6 IP, 7 H, 5 R (5 ER), 7 K, 7 BB.

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