The Dickinson State softball team's home opener was a quick one, but the Blue Hawks aren't complaining.
Busting a four-game losing streak, the team's offense exploded against Viterbo University (Wis.) to win 8-0 in less than five innings, on Saturday, April 6, at the North Softball Complex.
In the second game of the day, the V-Hawks established an early lead, scoring two in both the first and third innings en route to a 5-3 victory. On Sunday, both games went into extra innings, with the teams splitting once more.
"We didn't have a lot of hard hits in the first game, but we executed runs, we moved people over," head coach Kristen Fleury said. "We put pressure on them. We made them make mistakes and we capitalized on their mistakes."
It took two scoreless innings before Andrea Rodriguez earned a lead-off walk to start the third and senior shortstop Sonja Lawrence smacked a line drive past the pitchers left ear to get on base.
Sophomore pitcher Jaya Allen reached on a bunt, as a poor throw to home from the third baseman allowed the runner to score.
With senior pitcher Abi Brooks at the plate, Allen stole second. Brooks hit a grounder, but made it to first as the V-Hawk infield focused on Lawrence, who was caught between third and home. As Lawrence tried to get back to third, Allen ran from second, so Lawrence set her sights to home. Just as the V-Hawk guarding the plate caught the ball, she dove between her legs, sweeping the dish with her arms to score.
With that, the floodgates opened.
Viterbo batters went one-two-three in the top of the fifth and at the time, no one knew that would be the visitors' last opportunity to bat of the game.
Senior infielder Kayla Stephens began the bottom of the inning with a single to the gap in shallow left-center. Senior infielder Whitney Mesi reached on an error, and a sacrifice bunt from Freshman Caitlyn Welch pushed Mesi to second and Stephens to third.
After freshman Rhea Paiva made it to first, Stephens scored on a walk drawn by Rodriguez, which brought Lawrence to the plate. The Las Vegas native hit the Blue Hawks' only double of the day, driving in both Mesi and Paiva. As Paiva touched the plate, the umpire called game.
"We were just having fun, that's what we do," senior catcher Claire Shoffit said. "When we have fun, we play and we score runs."
Over 14 at-bats, Shoffit produced five hits, including two doubles and two RBI.
Unfortunately for the Blue Hawks (15-16, 5-7 NSAA), the bats fell silent in the second game.
The first three V-Hawks (10-19, 5-7 NSAA) batters got on base with a pair of singles and an error, which led to a 2-1 lead after one. A solo shot from junior Sonja McCormick and an RBI single from freshman Autumn Olson put the visitors up 4-1 in the third.
Viterbo only outhit Dickinson State 8-7, but the home team left seven runners on base. Once again, Lawrence led the way, going 3-for-4, while Rodriguez hit a triple to start the bottom of the fifth, going 2-for-4 in the contest.
"They set the tone early," Fleury said. "We gave them two runs in the first inning that should have never happened. Now, we're playing from behind the whole game. We kept getting within one, but we couldn't tie it up or go ahead. We have to play better defense and we can't give teams more opportunities than they're gonna earn."
Tied at five after seven innings the Blue Hawks and V-Hawks battled through 1 ½ scoreless extra innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Shoffit and Allen respectively reached on an error and a single, bringing up Mesi. The California native sent the first pitch into right field, scoring Shoffit for the 6-5 walk-off win.
In the final matchup, the Blue Hawks tied the game at six with a two-run home run from Emilie Sickler in the bottom of the sixth. However, in the top of the ninth, Viterbo touched home three times on two singles, an error and a double.
Pitching was a constant for the home team, keeping the Blue Hawks in the game, even if the offense wasn't firing.
Allen threw 20 ⅓ innings, allowing 23 hits, 13 of which came in her 9-inning outing on Sunday. After not allowing a single run on Saturday, she gave up eight on Sunday, six being earned.
Meanwhile, Brooks tossed 7 ⅓ innings over four games, allowing 13 hits and seven runs.
"Abi threw well, Jaya threw great today," Fleury said following Saturday's games. "Our pitchers don't deserve to take a loss today, but sometimes it's what happens. We need to bounce back ... and we need to get our bats going."
Dickinson State 8, Viterbo 0 (F/5)
VU 000 00X X - 0 5 3
DSU 002 33X X - 8 6 0
VU, Caitlin Brown (4.1) and Katelin Gilbertson. DSU, Jaya Allen (5) and Claire Shoffit.
W-Allen. L-Brown. HR-None.
Highlights: VU, Autumn Olson 2-2, 2B; Brown 4.1 IP, 6 H, 8 R(4 ER), K, 5 BB. DSU, Lawrence 2-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI; Shoffit 1-2, RBI; Abi Brooks 1-3, RBI; Kayla Stephens 1-2, R; Allen 1-2, 2 RBI, 5 IP, 5 H, 6 K.
Viterbo 5, Dickinson State 3
VU 202 001 0 - 5 8 3
DSU 100 010 0 - 3 7 1
VU, Caitlyn Koznik (6.2), Caitlyn Almberg (0.1) and Gilbertson. DSU, Brooks (5.1), Allen (1.2) and Jordan Menke.
W-Kozik. L-Brooks. HR-VU, Sonya McCormick.
Highlights: VU, McCormick 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI; Taylor Vance 1-3, 2B, RBI; Kozik 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R (1 ER), 4 K. DSU, Lawrence 3-4, R, RBI; Andrea Rodriguez 2-4, 3B, R; Shoffit 1-4; Allen 1-4, 1.2 IP, 3 K, 1 BB; Brooks 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R (3 ER), 2 K.
Dickinson State 6, Viterbo 5 (F/9)
VU 110 000 300 - 5 13 2
DSU 010 020 201 - 6 14 2
VU, Kendyl Schine (4.2), Brooklyn Ottelien (3.2) and Gilbertson. DSU, Jaya Allen and Shoffit.
W-Allen. L-Ottelien. HR-VU, Taylor Pacana.
Highlights: VU, Pacana 2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI; Lauren Davis 2-5, R, RBI; Schine 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R (3 ER), K, BB. DSU, Shoffit 3-5, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI; Mesi 2-3, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI; Lawrence 2-5, 2 R, RBI; Emilie Sickler 2-4, 2 2B, R, RBI; Rodriguez 1-5; Caitlyn Welch 1-4; Paiva 1-3; Allen 2-3, 9 IP, 13 H, 5 R (4 ER), 7 K, BB.
Viterbo 9, Dickinson State 6 (F/8)
VU 130 000 03 - 9 16 1
DSU 310 002 00 - 6 13 2
VU, Amberg (2), Kozik (6) and Gilbertson. DSU, Arjana Eilers (1.1), Brooks (2), Allen (4.2) and Shoffit.
W-Kozik. L-Allen. HR-VU, Nilsen. DSU, Sickler.
Highlights: VU, Ottelien 4-5, 3 RBI; Nilssen 2-5 HR, 2 R, RBI; Kozik 6 Ip, 7 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 K. DSU, Stephens 3-4, 3 2B, Rodriguez 2-4, R, RBI; Lawrence 2-4, 2B, R; Mesi 1-3, R; Caitlyn Welch 1-4, 2B, R; Sickler 1-3, R, 2 RBI; Paiva 1-4; Allen 2-4, 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R (1 ER), 4 K.