In the midst of a playoff push, the Dickinson High girls softball team maintains Class A's highest scoring offense at 13 runs a game. The bats can strike at any point, but the Midgets are versatile too, showcasing young but quality pitchers, an improved defense and solid baserunners.
Those items were on display at one point or another on Thursday, May 16, as Dickinson captured a two-game sweep over Bismarck Legacy on parents and senior night by the scores of 13-5 and 4-0 from the North Softball Complex.
The win proved to be a pivotal one, as the Midgets leaped over the Sabres in the WDA standings, likely assuring themselves a top-four seed during the West Region Tournament set to begin on May 23 from their home turf.
"It was very important to get these two wins for momentum building," senior infielder Kamryn Kuntz said. "As a team, we talked about hitting the ball, which we've kind of had trouble with lately, but today we figured it out and it showed."
With her team down 5-2 during the second inning of the opener, Kuntz stepped to the plate with two on and two out and struck out swinging. However, the pitch from Sabers senior Casey Loveness got by her battery mate, junior catcher Ellie Miller. Kuntz reaching by dashing to first base while junior outfielder Emy Personne alertly scored on the play.
It's not everyday a strikeout that should've ended an inning actually sparks a rally, but the Midgets ended the frame with a 6-5 advantage thanks to consecutive RBI base hits from senior infielder Brianna Ashworth and freshman catcher Taya Hopfauf.
"It's unfortunate that I got a strikeout, but it works," Kuntz said with a smile. "Anything works, we just have to get runners on base. It creates momentum and we take it."
Hopfauf led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run to right field, helping the home team score in every inning, providing ample run support for freshman pitcher Mataya Mortensen.
Bismarck Legacy batted around in the top of the first, scoring four runs off Mortensen. The road team added a fifth in the second before the freshman locked in.
From the third inning on, Mortensen relinquished just two hits and hit a batter en route to a complete game. She also collected eight strikeouts.
"I think it's great for our team, it kind of builds our conference up and lets us know that there's never a point where we give up," said Mortensen, who credits her changeup for her performance. "We always have to have our heads up, get back up and we'll be fine."
During game two, freshman Hope Fath dominated her opponents from the pitcher's circle. Allowing Bismarck Legacy to put runners in scoring position just once over seven innings, Fath gave up only three hits and two walks while striking out nine. She was aided by her defense, as Kuntz and freshman shortstop Kali Kubas each made spectacular defensive plays to keep the shutout intact.
"Hope did a great job on the mound today," Dickinson head coach Amanda Mickey said. "There were innings where she did a great job getting in and getting out and then she had her innings where she likes to throw extra pitches that she doesn't need to. But overall, she did a great job getting herself out of that."
As she did the first game, Kuntz had a role in Dickinson's biggest offensive inning of the nightcap, as she delivered a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to give the Midgets a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Following an Ashworth walk, Hopfauf grounded into a fielder's choice, but the Midgets were still able to bring two more to the dish when the Hopfauf was caught in a rundown.
In between games, Kuntz, her sister, senior outfielder Kennedy Kuntz, and Brianna Ashworth were each celebrated with their parents by their side as part of the senior parent's night festivities. Kuntz said she was humbled as her days in a Midgets uniform are nearing their end.
"It's really awesome to see all of our hard work. ... it goes to something," Kuntz said. "It's cool to be recognized for putting in all the hours, taking in all the ground balls, everything."
Dickinson 13, Bismarck Legacy 5
BL 410 000 0 - 5 9 0
D 000 000 x - 13 14 0
BL: Casey Lovsness (3.2), Tori Olson (2.1) and Ellie Miller. D: Mataya Mortensen (7.0) and Taya Hopfauf.
W-Mortensen. L-Loveness. HR-Hopfauf.
Highlights: BL: Alexis Dressler 2-4, 2 RBI, R; Miller 2-2, RBI, Kailey Weigel 3-4, 2 R. D: Taya Hopfauf 3-3, HR, 3B, BB, 3 RBI, 2 R; Mortensen 7 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, BB, 8 K, 2-4, RBI; Brianna Ashworth 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R; Kamryn Kuntz 2-4, RBI, 2 R; Emy Personne 3-4, 3B, RBI, 2 R.
Dickinson 4, Bismarck Legacy 0
BL 000 000 0 - 0 3 2
D 031 000 x - 4 3 0
BL: Tori Olson (6.0) and Ellie Miller. D: Hope Fath (7.0) and Taya Hopfauf.
W-Fath. L-Olson. HR-None.
Highlights: BL:Olson 6 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 4 R (2 ER), 4 K; Taylor Gerving 2-2, BB; Taryn Allmaras 1-3. D: Fath 7 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 9 K; Taylor Nelson 1-3, RBI, R; Kamryn Kuntz 1-2, RBI; Hopfauf 0-2, BB, 2 RBI.