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Just off the mark: Dickinson drops home opener against Bismarck Century

Dickinson junior infielder Ali Lafond hits a ball foul during a game against Bismarck Century on Tuesday, April 2, from the North Softball Complex. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)1 / 8
Bismarck Century freshman pitcher Brooklyn Morris begins her delivery to the plate during a contest against Dickinson on Tuesday, April 2. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)2 / 8
Dickinson freshman pitcher Mataya Mortensen delivers to the plate against Bismarck Century on Tuesday, April 2, from the North Softball Complex. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)3 / 8
Bismarck Century sophomore third baseman Lexi Duchsherer hits a home run against Dickinson on Tuesday, April 2, from the North Softball Complex. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)4 / 8
Dickinson freshman Taya Hopfauf clubs a pitch high in the zone during a contest against Bismarck Century on Tuesday, April 2, from the North Softball Complex. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)5 / 8
Dickinson High junior Taylor Nelson swings at the plate during a game against Bismarck Century on Tuesday, April 2, from the North Softball Complex. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)6 / 8
Dickinson High freshman Taya Hopfauf is hit with a pitch during a contest against Bismarck Century on Tuesday, April 2, from the North Softball Complex. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)7 / 8
Dickinson senior shortstop Kamryn Kuntz gloves the ball at second base for an out during a game against Bismarck Century on Tuesday, April 7, from the North Softball Complex. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)8 / 8

In each game of a conference-opening doubleheader against Bismarck Century, the Dickinson High girls softball team brought the tying run to the plate while down to its last out.

Facing five and 10-run deficits at the beginning of their respective final frames, the Midgets rallied, stringing together baserunners and putting themselves in a position where one swing could even the score.

However, when the afternoon gave way to evening, the team in orange and white ended the day without a mark in the win column, as the Patriots won the first contest 9-7 and held on 15-13 during the nightcap to spoil Dickinson's home opener on Tuesday, April 15, from the North Softball Complex.

Game two was suspended after the sixth inning due to darkness.

"At first, I was extremely upset. We were definitely a better team, but at the end of the day, I am super happy that we came back from being down 15-5 (in game two). If we had lights, we'd still have a chance of coming back some more," Dickinson head coach Amanda Mickey said. "Coming back from that many runs at the end is huge, especially since they were about to mercy; all they needed was three outs and we were done. A lot of heart right there at the end, but we need to definitely work on some soul searching."

In game one, sophomore outfielder Lexi Duchsherer gave the Patriots a 4-2 lead with a two-run opposite-field home run in the top of the third. Dickinson tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the frame, but Duchsherer again came up big in the top of the fifth.

After an RBI single from junior infielder Miah Rauhauser put the road team back up 5-4, Duchsherer drew a walk with one out and junior pinch runner Kenna Lambrecht standing on second base. Instead of taking her base, the sophomore rounded first, intentionally getting herself in a rundown. As Midgets freshman pitcher Mataya Mortensen threw towards second, Lambrecht, who had advanced to third, dashed to home plate. The throw from second was an errant one, extending the Patriots lead to 6-4.

Duchsherer, who ended up at third by the end of the play, eventually scored on a groundout from Carly Nelson.

"Lexi is a good athlete, and if she gets confident, she's going to be OK," Bismarck Century head coach Kevin Ziegler said. "She needed today, she needed to come out with a good outing, and if we can keep her going like that, she's going to be an asset to our team."

Duchsherer's baserunning was one of several moments where the Midgets were slow to react. In the bottom of the fifth, and again in the sixth, Dickinson runners were doubled-off from first. Those mental mistakes contributed to the Patriots facing the minimum in the fourth, fifth and sixth.

"There's no excuse at all for any of those mistakes," Mickey said. "We've competed at a high level for years now, and they know better."

Freshman pinch hitter Delani Clarke connected with a two-run double in the top of the seventh, pushing the Patriots to a 9-4 advantage. Clarke's hit would prove to be critical, as the Midgets closed to 9-7 following a two-out RBI double from Ali Lafond. Mortensen was next up, but sharply lined out to center to end the game.

When contest No. 2 got underway, Dickinson sophomore starting pitcher Abbey Kubas struggled to throw strikes. When she was able to catch the plate, Bismarck Century capitalized to the tune of an eight-run first inning, highlighted by a grand slam from junior catcher Madeline Grad.

The Patriots led 12-2 at the end of three, but Ziegler implored his players to 'keep it going,' knowing full well what the Midgets' bats are capable of.

"Dickinson's a good team, and the thing is, if you don't keep attacking, what's going to happen is what happened right there," Ziegler said. "They'll get themselves right back in it. ... We're looking at finishing. We can't go five innings or six innings, we have to play seven innings."

Behind a two-run home run off the left-field foul pole from sophomore pitcher Malee Wittenberg, Bismarck Century had a 14-2 cushion entering the bottom of the fifth, but Dickinson scored three runs to keep the game alive.

With the Patriots added a tally in the top of the sixth, the Midgets again had to put up runs to continue the contests. That's when the home team exploded, bringing 12 batters to the plate and posting eight runs to the scoreboard.

Senior infielder Brianna Ashworth and senior outfield Kennedy Kuntz each delivered bases-clearing extra-base hits, closing the deficit to 15-13 before Mortensen popped out to the pitcher to end the frame.

With the game's suspension, play will only resume at a later date if a result is needed in relation to the standings.

"Definitely the most positive thing that happened today was that comeback," Mickey said. "We fell short, but that was huge to score that many runs when you are about to get mercied. That's good news, that was good to see and it's only going to get us in the future with that kind of mentality and work ethic. ... We have a good team, it's just a matter of connecting the dots."

Bismarck Century 9, Dickinson 7

BC 112 030 2 — 9 10 2

D 022 000 3 — 7 4 4

BC: Madison Zander (2.1), Brooklyn Morris (4.2) and Madeline Grad. D: Mataya Mortensen (7.0) and Taya Hopfauf.

W—Zander. L—Mortensen. HR—BC: Lexi Duchsherer. D: Hopfauf.

Highlights: BC: Duchsherer 1-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, 4 R; Morris 4.2 IP, 4 K, BB, 2 H, 3 R, 2-5, SB; Delani Clarke 1-1, PH 2B, 2 RBI. D: Hopfauf 1-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, SB; Ali Lafond 1-2, 2B, 2 BB, 2 RBI, R; Mataya Mortensen 1-2, 2 BB, R, 7 IP, 10 H, 6 BB, 9 R (7 ER), 5 K.

Bismarck Century 15, Dickinson 13 (F/6)

BC 822 021 — 15 13 4

D 011 038 — 13 8 5

BC: Malee Wittenberg (5.2), Brooklyn Morris (0.1) and Madeline Grad. D: Abbey Kubas (1.2), Ava Jahner (4.1) and Taya Hopfauf.

W—Wittenberg. L—Kubas. HR—BC: Grad, Wittenberg. D: Hopfauf.

Highlights: BC: Grad 3-5, GS, 5 RBI, 2 R; Wittenberg 1-2, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 3 R, 5.2 IP, 7 H, 9 BB, 11 ER, 3 K; Miah Rauhauser 3-3, 2 RBI, R. D: Hopfauf 3-3, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, IBB, 3 R; Brianna Ashworth 2-4, 2B, BB, 4 RBI, R; Kennedy Kuntz 1-3, 2 BB, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 R; Ava Jahner 0-3, 4.1 IP, 5 H, BB, 5 R (4 ER), 4 K.

Patrick Bernadeau

Patrick Bernadeau is a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press. He can be reached at his office number (701) 456-1211 or email him at pbernadeau@thedickinsonpress.com. Joining the Dickinson Press in July 2017, he was previously a freelance sports writer for Treasure Coast Newspapers (TCPalm.com) in Stuart, FL as well as carrying bylines from the Associated Press, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, Florida Today and Naples Daily News. Prior to his move to Dickinson, he resided in Port St. Lucie, FL, earning a Bachelor's Degree from Florida Atlantic University. Patrick was born and raised in Brockton, Mass and is an avid Boston sports fan. Born to Haitian parents, Patrick's favorite meal is Griot with Banana Peze, Pikliz (Fried pork with smashed plaintains and a spicy vegetable relish) and a tall glass of Cherry Coke.

(701) 456-1211
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