The Dickinson High softball team's regular season ended the same way it began: against Minot.
The Midgets fell to the Majettes in the state championship game last spring. The girls in orange and black managed to get some level of revenge in a 20-9 season opener, but that game was a non-conference matchup.
Monday's meeting between Dickinson and Minot not only counted in conference record, it determined seeding in the upcoming West Region tournament. Ahead of the first pitch, the Midgets were in third, needing a win to solidify the seed, while Minot was in fourth and in search of two victories to move up.
While the Midgets were three outs away from a win during the opener, but the visitors persevered and came away with a 10-9 victory. In game two, Dickinson learned from its mistakes and kept tacking on runs. When the Majettes pushed back with three late tallies, the Midgets had enough cushion to hold on 11-8 on Monday, May 20, at the North Softball Complex.
With the series split, Dickinson is the No. 3 seed at the West Region tournament in Dickinson this weekend, while Minot is the No. 4 seed.
"It wasn't our best game. I know we could do better. I know that they're gonna be a team that we'll probably have to face at WDA or if we get to state," junior Emy Personne said of the victory. "I'm just kind of taking it game by game. It feels good, but I got to think about Thursday and who we're going to be playing and focus on the road ahead,and not on Minot."
Personne played a big role in both games, using aggression on the basepaths to score key runs for the Midgets.
The home team trailed 4-3 going into the bottom of the fifth, but that soon changed. Senior Brianna Ashworth walked and freshman Taya Hopfauf hit a double to deep center to start things off. Freshman pitcher Mataya Mortensen singled to score them both. After freshman Reese Hauck and Personne singled to load the bases, the Majettes got two quick outs with a fly out and a Midgets base-running error.
Junior Taylor Nelson kept the inning alive with a single, loading the bases, so when senior Kennedy Kuntz drew a walk, Mortensen trotted in. To the Majettes' surprise, Personne high-tailed it and snuck in behind Mortensen to score another run, bringing the score to 7-4 Midgets.
"They're so good at being contagious when it comes to hitting and being able to have those pressure-situations and move runners around," Dickinson head coach Amanda Mickey said. "Good base running helped. We had a couple mental errors on the base paths. Emy's trick play, definitely got us rolling a little bit, that was fun."
Earlier, Personne got the Midgets within one, 4-3, with a gutsy run home after tagging up from third. Freshman catcher Abigail Barnum was in the base path, a stride ahead of the plate, ready to catch the throw. The ball slipped by her glove just as Personne collided with her in a slide attempt. The Midget stopped just short of home, at which point she shimmied forward and slapped the plate.
"I got to slide, or jump over her," Personne said of what was going through her head. "I was like, 'OK, I don't think I can jump ... she could stop me. I just got to go feet first.' And I did, I went feet first right as she caught the ball and I hit the ball out of her glove and I was called safe. It was kind of scary, I'd never done that before."
In the top of the seventh, the Majettes put on a frightening rally, nearly catching the Midgets. Three straight singles from sophomore Paige Ackerman, senior Jaycie Rostad and junior Cambrie Pretzer started a strong inning that brought in three runs before Mortensen ended the evening with a strikeout.
In game two, the Majettes mounted two rallys en route to the win. In the sixth, doubles from junior Jailee Britt and Rostad helped score four runs, turning a 3-3 game into a 7-3 advantage.
"That's kind of how we are. We try to out-ugly you and we just keep battling," Minot head coach Gerard Cederstrom said. "You never know, as long as we have a bat in our hand, we can make something happen. ... That's just our team, we're kind of happy-go-lucky, let's just get after it. Don't get too down and just fight."
The Midgets (22-8, 12-6 WDA) came back though, and up 8-7, they were three outs away from a win, but they made mistakes, which Minot (18-12, 11-7 WDA) took advantage of.
Freshman Hope Fath returned to the mound in the top of the seventh after leaving in the fifth. After drawings a fly out from the first batter, she walked the second one. Next, sophomore Taylee Hertz reached on an error and when Fath hit senior Sophie Wedar with a pitch, Mickey pulled her again and asked Mortensen to finish the game.
She too struggled, throwing three straight balls before Britt hit a blooper that plated two runs, putting Minot up 9-8. Junior Landry Maragos batted one more run in before the Midgets got the third out.
Pitching troubles were not the only culprit in game one's loss though, as the Midgets committed seven errors in the opener.
"(That's) way too many, especially the way we've been playing," Mickey said. "It's coming towards the end of the season right before regionals we should be cruising to peaking instead of going downhill. But, overall, hitting is great, (Mortensen) looked good in the circle, so we got some good things going for us."
Minot 10, Dickinson 9
M 000 034 3 - 10 6 3
D 300 005 1 - 9 13 7
M, Paige Ackerman and Jaycie Rostad. D, Hope Fath (4.1), Mataya Mortensen (1.2), Ava Jahner (1) and Taya Hopfauf.
W-Ackerman. L-Fath. HR-None.
Highlights: M, Jailee Britt 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI; Ackerman 0-5, R, RBI, 7 IP, 13 H, 9 R (3 ER), 3 K, 6 BB. D, Mortensen 5-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1.2 IP, 2 H; Taya Hopfauf 1-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI; Emy Personne 2-4, R, 2 RBI; Taylor Nelson 2-2, RBI; Brianna Ashworth 1-4, 2 R, RBI; Reese Hauck 1-5, R, RBI; Kali Kubas 1-4; Fath 4.1 IP, 1 H, 6 R (2 ER), 3 K, 4 BB; Ava Jahner 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R (1 ER), 1 K.
Dickinson 11, Minot 8
M 011 201 3 - 8 12 1
D 020 162 X - 11 13 1
M, Avery Falcon (5), Hailey Espe (1) and Abigail Barnum. D, Mortensen and Hopfauf.
W-Mortensen. L-Falcon. HR-D, Hauck.
Highlights: M, Barnum 3-4, RBI; Falcon 5 IP, 10 H, 8 R (7 ER), 1 K, 3 BB. D, Hauck 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI; Kennedy Kuntz 2-4, R, 2 RBI; Nelson 2-4, R, 2 RBI; Hopfauf 1-4, 2B, R; Kuntz 1-3; Ashworth 1-2; Bailey Berg 1-1, R, 2 RBI; Personne 1-1, 4 R; Mortensen 1-4, R, 2 RBI, 7 IP, 12 H, 8 R (7 ER), 4 K, 1 BB.