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Walk-off victory in season opener for Heart River Cougars

“We gave them more runs then they should have had,” said Heart River’s head Coach Kendra Schillo.

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Sydney Froehlich fly ball to right field earns her an RBI single and she then runs to third base, taking advantage of fielding error.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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SOUTH HEART, N.D. — It was Cougars versus Cougars when Heart River hosted their season opener against Central McLean late Monday afternoon. The home side pulled off a late win via walk-off fashion courtesy of a two-run home run by sophomore Sage Lecoe.

The scoreboard read 7-6 as Lecoe rounded the bags amid cheers. The Heart River Cougars gathered at home plate as the high fives and smiles signaled a tightly contested win for the the young squad.

After taking an early 3-0 lead, Heart River would lose the lead twice in a competitive back and forth that centered on errors. The win would be determined by which team regrouped mentally and cleaned up their game first — a feat achieved by Heart River late in the pairing.

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Sage Lecoe receives praise from her teammates and coaches after scoring the walk-off 2-run homer for Heart River against Central McLean on Monday, April 4.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“We gave them more runs then they should have had,” Heart River’s head Coach Kendra Schillo said. “We need to clean up our defense, but they battled and they never gave up and that is what I always ask of them. ‘Don't ever give up. Fight until the game is over.’ And that is what our girls did.”

Senior Meg Silbernagel held the circle through five, delivering nine strikeouts and not allowing a single earned run. She was relieved by senior first baseman Taylar Fagerberg at the top of the sixth inning and took the shortstop position, moving senior Briley Boltz and Lecoe over one to second and first respectively.

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Meg Silbernagel in the pitching's circle.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Fagerberg, who missed last season due to a knee injury, began her return season with a quick four putouts and two K's.

“To have two good pitchers in Class B softball is a real luxury," Schilllo said. "Taylar hasn't played since her freshman year, so to come in and get some big outs for us was big.”

A big part of the Heart River offensive strategy was focused on using pace via stolen bases and rapid fire base running. All together the Heart River Cougars tallied 20 stolen bases, a team record — converting four into runs.

Freshman Abby Conery claimed the first run of the season in the first inning, putting herself in scoring position early courtesy of stolen bases at second and third following her initial walk.

Up 3-0 going into the fifth inning, Central McLean's offense surged to tie the game on Heart River errors in back-to-back plays.

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Senior Briley Boltz steals third base.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The tied game would not last as senior contributions from Silbernagel and Fagerberg would again see the Cougars gain the lead at 5-3.

With Fagerberg in the pitcher’s circle the score would remain the same until the final inning when Central McLean rallied to bring the game to a 6-5 lead for McLean.

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Meg Silbernagel shows her versatility with putout after being relieved from the pitcher's circle.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

With only one inning to make up the deficit, Heart River went to work.

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Boltz was caught stealing second, which placed the game in the hands of a string of young players at the bottom of the lineup. Freshman Vada Krueger displayed poise and garnered a walk on a full count before Lecoe would crush her first pitch that sailed over the fence to win the game.

The coaching staff talked to Lecoe before the final inning and pressed for her to be aggressive and to make contact.

"It is a simple game,” Schillo said. “As complicated as we make it, it comes down to there's the ball, hit the ball and when she does and allows herself to do that she is a force.”

Schillo gave recognition to their young third baseman, eighth grader Sydney Froehlich saying that in a game of errors, the young talent racked up an RBI to give the team a much needed point in a critical moment.

“When she got that first grounder I wasn't sure if she was going to get the out or fall over,” Schillo said. “She was so nervous at the start of the game… you forget that she is only 14-years-old and this is her first varsity experience. She really stepped up and I was impressed.”

With The first game out of the way, the next game will be another regional home game against Wilton-Wing on April 8.

Boxscore:

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

R

H

E

CM

0

0

0

0

3

0

3

6

8

1

HR

1

0

1

1

2

0

2

7

2

2

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Total Bases:
HR: Sage Lecoe 4, Sydney Froehlich 1; CM: Sydney Fischer 3, Ashley Bergquist, Daisy Sparrow, Sally Heger 2, Ashtyn Smith, Averie Schlafmann 1

Pitching:
HR: Meg Silbernagel 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, Taylar Fagerberg 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K; CM : Sparrow 6.1 IP, 2 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 11 BB, 12 K

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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