Midgets rope the Mustangs 5-2 at state tourney
The Midgets continued their quest for the state title facing West Fargo Sheyenne in the quarterfinals.
Intense heat and pressure cause carbon atoms to crystallize and form diamonds — and the state tournament in Mandan was no different as the Midgets heated up the diamond enroute to clinching the W in a 5-2 performance against West Fargo Sheyenne.
The quarter finals proceeded through the afternoon in relative heat until Dickinson Softball took to the diamond. The clouds parted and the sun bore down on players and fans alike, many doing their utmost to find shade amidst mid-90s heat.
The Midgets entered the tournament on the heels of a surprising loss in the Western Dakota Association finals, but eagerly sought to bounce back in the opening round of the state tournament.
“We were just ready to play,” freshman powerhouse Ave Jahner said. “We wanted to hit the ball because we struggled a little bit with that against Century, so we really just wanted to come out and hit the ball and get another win.”
Jahner was once again in the circle and immediately set to the task — striking out the first two batters in quick succession. She would bag eight strikeouts on the day. The two team defenses battled it out in a game that saw neither allow a run through two innings.
It was WF Sheyenne who would strike first, and with flair. A home run in the top of the third would see the Midgets facing an uphill struggle. As the Sheyenne players greeted their heavy hitter at home plate, the Midgets’ focus remained vigilant and under the pressure would close the inning with no additional damage by way of a 4-3 putout.
Jahner’s attention turned from the circle to the batter’s box as she demonstrated why she ranks among the leaders on the team, answering the early home run with her very own to tie the game.
“I feel good about (my performance.) I think there were some spots where I could have gone a little harder, but I feel good overall,” Jahner said. “It was a really good feeling because I knew that I owed something better than (what I did at) WDA. I knew that I had to back up my team and get some hits going… I know that even if I am struggling on the mound I always know that they will have my back and be there when I need them. ”
Jenna Decker and Taya Hopfauf tried to continue the momentum of the inning, but would come up short after being stranded on bases.
The fourth would be a quick inning for Sheyenne with a flyout to Hopfauf followed by a force out and a strike out.
The Dickinson team had two outs in the fourth, but quickly showed that they were not out of the fight just yet, as two additional dingers would come from Amy Fridley and Jahner — her second of the game.
Decker’s single from a line out would lead to a stolen second, followed by Mataya Mortensen who would then grab an RBI to bring in Decker. Mortensen would also be brought in by Hopfauf’s line drive to right field.
“It is always fun out there when you get that steal sign. The blood gets flowing and it is just a more exciting move during the game,” Decker said following the win. “(After the Mustangs home run) we were thinking like, ‘Okay we are going to start playing now, let's go kick their butt! Let's get going and have some fun and show how we play.’”
Both teams would hold steady and retire the side in the fifth.
The Mustangs would again attempt a rally to clinch the victory, but would only garner a single in their efforts courtesy of Kyra Narum.
The seventh inning would prove to be the last chance to rally for Sheyenne, who would truly give it their all and cap out the day with another home run, this time from Kate Geiszler. Their efforts would prove fruitless however as they would leave a player stranded on second after a ground ball forced out.
The Mustangs ended the day with four hits and two runs against the Midgets 10-5.
Now the Midgets will advance to the state semifinals against a team they have yet to play this season, Valley City. The Hi-Liners are the No. 2 team in the Eastern Dakota Conference and are expected to be staunch competition for the Midgets.
The semifinals for the Midgets will begin at 4 p.m. on June 4 in Mandan.
“We haven't played them yet this year but they are a pretty tough team we’ve heard, but if we play like we know how to play we’ll get them,” Decker said.
Jahner added, “I think we are just ready to come out and play another game. Obviously, we are a little worried about the heat because it’s supposed to be really hot. We are ready to come out and beat them hopefully.”