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GIRLS SOFTBALL: Eagles meat Minot

East Grand Forks Sacred Heart softball coach Mike Marek wants his team to embrace bunting and running. "Sometimes it's not how hard you hit it," Marek said. "You just have to put on some pressure." The Eagles bought into Marek's style to earn a t...

East Grand Forks Sacred Heart softball coach Mike Marek wants his team to embrace bunting and running.

"Sometimes it's not how hard you hit it," Marek said. "You just have to put on some pressure."

The Eagles bought into Marek's style to earn a tournament title.

Sacred Heart utilized the short game to score eight runs in the third inning en route to a 9-1 win over Minot on Saturday in the championship game of the Sacred Heart tournament at Lafave Park.

"We practiced the short game all week. Coach was really stressing that," Sacred Heart second baseman Ashley Seim said. "Bunting was the key for us today. That's definitely starting to come around."

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That was clear in the top half of the third inning. Sacred Heart scored eight runs with only three hits making it out of the infield.

Seim, Morgan Kaiser and Darcy Roach walked in the inning. Rachel Scheving and Tia Klien reached when their bunt attempts were mishandled. Then Sarah Jeffrey, Karissa Hanson and Scheving each had run-scoring singles in an inning in which Sacred Heart sent 12 batters to the plate.

"That eight-spot was the big one," Marek said. "Other than that, it was a pretty close game."

The big inning gave the Eagles an 8-1 lead. It was plenty of support for pitcher Darcy Roach.

Roach struck out 32 batters in the tournament. She fanned 14 against Minot and 18 against Grand Forks Central in the semifinals.

"Darcy is our main support," Seim said. "She keeps our defense together. We have a good infield and outfield but her pitching keeps us all together."

Roach allowed just one hit through the first three innings. That hit, though, accounted for Minot's only run.

In the bottom of the second, Brooklyn Bender ripped a pitch to right-center that ran the gap to the fence. Sacred Heart was unable to throw out Bender at the plate for a home run.

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Roach allowed one hit after that.

"She was really hitting her spots," Marek said. "She pinpointed a lot of pitches."

Sacred Heart, which is fourth in the latest Minnesota state Class A coaches poll, improved to 11-1.

"These games were good tests for us," Seim said. "There were a lot of good teams here."

In the third-place game, Grand Forks Central went extra innings to beat Warroad. In the eighth, Megan Hepper singled in Nicole Jose for the 4-3 win.

Larissa Knutson and Michaela Johnson both homered to pace the Knights.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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