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Blue Hawks softball shuts out Dakota State in fourth straight win

Dickinson State senior first baseman Claire Shoffit makes contact in a game against Dakota State on Saturday, April 20, at the North Softball Complex. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)1 / 4
Dickinson State senior infielder Kayla Stephens puts barrel to ball during a conference game against Dakota State on Saturday, April 20, at the North Softball Complex. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)2 / 4
Dakota State sophomore Xitlali Lopez swings for a pitch during a game against Dickinson State on Saturday, April 20, at the North Softball Complex. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)3 / 4
Dickinson State senior catcher throws the ball back to sophomore pitcher Jaya Allen during game one against Dakota State (S.D.) on Saturday, April 20, at the North Softball Complex. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)4 / 4

With one out and a runner on first in the top of the seventh, Dakota State (S.D.) senior Taylor Poe drilled the ball into deep right field, where Dickinson State sophomore Emilie Sickler gathered it at the wall. After collecting the cut-off throw, senior second baseman Kayla Stephens whirled and fired to senior catcher Jordan Menke.

With a sprawling tag, Menke kept the Trojans off the board, nabbing Dakota State freshman Sarah Torres as she tried to run behind the plate and tag it.

Sophomore pitcher Jaya Allen struck out the next batter, shutting out their opponent 6-0 on Saturday, April 20 at the North Softball Complex. The Blue Hawks liked the sound of that so much, they won game two by the same score, earning the 4-0 series sweep.

"As a catcher, we work on when they run out of the baseline like that," Menke said. "I'm glad that we had that in our pocket because it really helped in the long run, saving that run."

Dickinson State had to fight again in game two to ensure the goose egg stay on the scoreboard.

With two outs to go, Trojans senior Tatum Ronke singled after fouling the ball off three times down the third-base line.

Freshman Annalisa Ingui moved Ronke to second with a base hit to third, just out of reach of Dickinson State infielder Caitlyn Welch.

A pop out to senior shortstop Sonja Lawrence got Dakota State down to its last out, and batter Melissa Krapf worked her at-bat as long as she could. After fouling off the first pitch, she saw three straight balls from game two starting pitcher Abi Brooks. Brooks bested her with the next pitch, bringing the count to 3-2 with a strike inside.

After two more fouls up and back, Krapf finally put the ball in fair territory. Lawrence picked up the grounder and tossed to Welch at third for the final out.

"I guess my job is to just stay focused Abi, keep Abi focused and make sure that she's in the zone as much as I am," Menke said. "Just keep the focus on the field with everyone.

"There is a high percentage when the batter fouls it off a lot, it's more in their favor than the pitcher, but I knew Abi had it in her to just finish the at-bat."

Although the same couldn't be said about their all-white uniforms, the Blue Hawks (21-20, 11-11 NSAA) kept it clean, as they didn't commit a single error over the four-game series against Dakota State (8-29, 5-17 NSAA).

"Coming into the season, I thought defense was our strong suit and the last couple weeks, we haven't been doing that," Dickinson State head coach Kristen Fleury said. "It's just good to see us make the routine plays, but also make some big plays. "

In last weekend's series at Bellevue (Neb.), the Blue Hawks went 3-1, averaging four runs per outing. This weekend, they put up at least six runs in each game, hitting into double figures each time.

Senior outfielder Andrea Rodriguez led the offense, going 3-for-3 in game one with a pair of doubles, two runs scored, and an RBI. She went 8-for-13 over the four games. Lawrence had three hits in game two, including a double and a triple to the gap in right-center field.

Rounding out the team effort, was pitcher Brooks and sophomore Jaya Allen, who both threw complete games. Allen struck out four, while allowing five hits and a pair of walks. Brooks' final line read: seven hits, a strikeout and a walk. Meanwhile, she also went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

"Our pitchers did a great job in the four-game series, 26 innings and gives up one run on a solo home run," Fleury said. "It's just a testament to our pitchers and our defense."

Dickinson State 6, Dakota State 0

DaSU 000 000 0 — 0 5 0

DiSU 130 011 X — 6 11 0

DaSU, Analisa Ingui and Nicole Stewart. DiSU, Jaya Allen and Jordan Menke.

W—Allen. L—Ingui. HR—None.

Highlights: DaSU, Taylor Poe 2-3, 2B; Ingui 6 IP, 11 H, 6R (5 ER), 4 BB. DiSU, Andrea Rodriguez 3-3, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI; Rhea Paiva 2-3, R, 2 RBI; Caitlyn Welch 2-3, R, RBI; Claire Shoffit 1-4, 2B, RBI; Sonja Lawrence 1-2; Allen 2-3, RBI, 7 IP, 5 H, 4 K, 2 BB.

Dickinson State 6, Dakota State 0

DaSU 000 000 0 — 0 7 0

DiSU 310 200 X — 6 13 0

DaSU, Xitlali Lopez (3.1), Stefani Gollin (2.2) and Stewart. Abi Brooks and Jordan Menke.

W—Brooks. L—Lopez. HR—None.

Highlights: DaSU, Tatum Ronke 2-3, 2B; Lopez 3.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 K. DiSU, Lawrence 3-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI; Allen 3-4, RBI; Shoffit 1-3, 2B, RBI; Emilie Sickler 1-3, 2B, R; Welch 1-3; Paiva 1-1, R; Brooks 3-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 7 IP, 7 H, 1 K, 1 BB.