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PREP SOFTBALL: Roughriders come out on top with 18-15 victory over Grand Forks Central

Grand Forks Red River relief pitcher Lindsay Koopman (1) delivers a pitch in the fourth inning of Red River's 18-15 win over Grand forks Central Wednesday in Grand Forks.JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD

No matter the weather, there is something about playing a rival that gets players ready to play.

After four innings of Wednesday’s softball game between Grand Forks Central and Grand Forks Red River, the Knights and Roughriders had combined to score 28 runs.

The Roughriders eventually came out as the victor in the offensive shootout, holding the Knights without a run in the final three innings to win 18-15 at Apollo Park.

“Regardless of what the matchup looks like, it’s always a big game,” said Red River coach Brooke Larson. “Playing the Knights, it’s tough. This is these seniors last one (meeting with the Knights) so they weren’t going to give up. And they (the Knights) weren’t going to give up either.”

The Knights had a 5-2 lead after 1½ innings, but the Roughriders got their first lead of the game by scoring six runs in the bottom half of the second inning, highlighted by a Maddie Makovsky double that drove home two runs.

Central responded in the third with seven runs of its own — started by a Willow Rynestad single that drove home Megan Haas.

After allowing three Roughrider runs in the bottom of the third, the Knights were able to get three more in the fourth — their last runs in of the game.

“One of our biggest goals going into this game was to score in every inning,” said Larson.

And the Riders did just that.

Red River added two more in their half of the fourth, then Makovsky came in on relief in the fifth inning and didn’t allow another Central run.

The Roughriders scored three runs in the fifth inning and tacked on two more in the sixth to come away with the win. Callie Carlson drove in Makovsky in the top of the fifth for the go-ahead run.       

“I think any time you have a high school rival game it’s always a lot of fun,” said Knight coach Maggie O’Neal. “It brings a lot of intensity.

“Our team played really well. I think it came down to defensive errors that killed it for us,” added O’Neal.  “We hit the ball well. We did all of the controlables right. It was just regular, routine ground balls that killed us.”

The Knights were led by Stephanie McWilliams, who went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs.

Lauren Kraft led the Roughriders, going 4-for-5, scoring three times and driving in three.

Weather may have contributed to the high scoring, but O’Neal said that the weather just comes with playing an outdoor sport.

 “You have to overcome things,” she said. “You’re going to get thrown these challenges that you have no control over and you have to overcome it. But I think it’s the most intensity I’ve seen out of our team in a long time.”

Red River improved to 8-4 in the Eastern Dakota Conference and 11-7 overall, while Central dropped to 1-9 and 2-11. 

“We hit the ball really well,” added Larson. “We played a lot of our short game really well. Overall, we really broke it open.”