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Playing with confidence: Dickinson State softball triumphs over the Saints

Dickinson State senior Whitney Mesi hits a ball hard down the third base line against Presentation College (S.D.) on Wednesday, April 24, at the North Softball Complex. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)1 / 3
Presentation College (S.D.) junior Cherie Malacas lays down a bunt in action against Dickinson State on Wednesday, April 24, at the North Softball Complex. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)2 / 3
Dickinson State sophomore pitcher Jaya Allen runs to first as the Presentation College (S.D.) first baseman collects her bunt on Wednesday, April 24, at the North Softball Complex. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)3 / 3

Game one between the Dickinson State softball team and Presentation College (S.D.) ended with a rather unusual double play.

In the top of the seventh, the Blue Hawks led 6-0. Saints junior Maranda McLaren flied out to left field for the second out of the inning, and Celia Cerezo dashed home from third, hoping to put her team on the board. However, she failed to tag up, so when the Blue Hawks tossed the ball to third, she was called out.

With that, the Blue Hawks won 6-0. Victory came by the same score in game two, stretching their winning streak to six games on Wednesday, April 24, at the North Softball Complex.

"It's honestly kind of been the story of our season," senior Whitney Mesi said of the double play. "Just rolling with the punches and trusting that so-and-so is behind you and they've got your back and you've got their back. If it's a routine play, it's gonna happen. If it's an unorthodox play, it's gonna happen as well. It's a good feeling to have that confidence in your team."

The odd out to end it wasn't the only strange play on the day. In the fourth inning of game two, Presentation junior Darrian Gibson put a soft hit between first base and the mound, drawing in both Dickinson State starting pitcher Abi Brooks and Mesi from first. Brooks got her glove on the ball, but Mesi wasn't on the bag and second baseman Kayla Stephens was in motion, but wouldn't reach first in time.

Brooks sped to the baseline, tagging Gibson just ahead of the bag. While the infield umpire originally called the Saints pitcher safe, after some contention, he reversed the call, which ended the top of the inning.

The Saints had their share of uncommon outs as well. In back-to-back innings in game two, Presentation pulled a double-play retire the side.

After Mesi reached on an error with one out, Brooks smacked a line drive to shortstop Krystle Schweers, who fired to first, beating courtesy runner Julie Knight back to the bag.

In the fourth, after a single from sophomore outfielder Emilie Sickler, senior outfielder Andrea Rodriguez lined out to Gibson, who threw to first to get the final out.

"It's something that we do practice. We practice backdoors as an instant reaction any time there's a next play," Saints head coach Mari Cerenio-Jordan said. "So, it's one of those things, if you practice it daily, all you can hope is that that instinct kicks in on game day."

In game one, all the line drives benefited the Blue Hawks, as most found gaps or simply sped out of the infield too quickly for a glove to get there.

Kicking off the action for Dickinson State, Rodriguez hit a hard liner to shallow center for a base hit. Doing what she does best, senior shortstop Sonja Lawrence used a sacrifice bunt to move Rodriguez over, before Shoffit used a line drive up the middle to push the run home.

The second inning featured more success at the plate, with base knocks from Sickler, Rodriguez, Lawrence, Mesi and sophomore pitcher Jaya Allen, while senior catcher Claire Shoffit walked and freshman outfielder Rhea Paiva reached on an error.

Of the 13 Blue Hawks hits, nine came in the first two frames, nearly all of which were low to the ground and screamed out of the infield.

"You're obviously always looking for a line drive, just squaring the ball up and hitting it hard," Dickinson State head coach Kristen Fleury said. "We did a good job on executing some runs, working some squeezes and bunts and taking advantage of some of their mistakes."

With the team's only double, Mesi led the offense in game one, going 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI. She went 1-for-3 in game two, but also reached by way of error.

Mesi singled on the first pitch of her first two plate appearances. In her third at-bat, she fouled off the first pitch and doubled to deep center on the third pitch.

"I've been pretty successful with swinging at the first pitch," Mesi said. "I think I found my rhythm, and don't take as many pitches off. I just try to stay aggressive and swing at the first good pitch I see. If it's there, I'm swinging at it."

The Saints (4-36, 3-21 NSAA) were led by Gibson who posted a pair of hits in both contests, going 4-for-6 overall.

As it has been for the past few weeks, the Dickinson State (23-20, 13-11 NSAA) defense was solid, but did commit an error in game two, its first since April 15.

Pitching was impressive too, with both Allen and Brooks tossing complete games. Allen allowed seven hits, most coming early, while striking out 13. In game two, Brooks allowed seven hits while fanning five.

Adding to the oddities of the afternoon, the games were the third and fourth straight that Dickinson State won by a 6-0 decision.

"I guess it's our lucky number," Fleury said. "Again, our defense and our pitching was great for us today. We got outs when we need to and we kept them off the board. It doesn't really matter how many runs you score, as long as the other team scores less."

Dickinson State 6, Presentation College 0

PC 000 000 0 — 0 0 3

DSU 150 000 X — 6 13 0

PC, Bibiana Villeda and Skye Carter. DSU, Jaya Allen and Jordan Menke.

W—Allen. L—Villeda. HR—None.

Highlights: PC, Cortni Mendoza 3-3; Villeda 6 IP, 13 H, 6 R (5 ER), 2 BB. DSU, Whitney Mesi 3-4, 2B, RBI; Emilie Sickler 2-2, R; Sonja Lawrence 2-3, R; Andrea Rodriguez 2-4, 2 R, RBI; Claire Shoffit 1-3, R, 2 RBI; Allen 3-4, RBI, 7 IP, 7 H, 13 K.

Dickinson State 6, Presentation College 0

PC 000 000 0 — 0 7 3

DSU 210 012 X — 6 7 1

PC, Darrian Gibson and Celia Cerezo. DSU, Abi Brooks and Claire Shoffit.

W—Brooks. L—Gibson. HR—None.

Highlights: PC, Cerezo 2-3, 2B; Gibson 6 IP, 7 H, 6 R (2 ER), 2 BB. DSU, Kayla Stephens 2-3, 2B, 2 R; Rodriguez 1-3, 2B, R, RBI; Lawrence 1-3, 2 R; Mesi 1-3, RBI; Caitlyn Welch 1-1, R, RBI; Sickler 1-2, RBI; Brooks 7 IP, 7 H, 5 K.

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