N.D. EAST REGION GIRLS SOFTBALL: Central downs Red River for trip to state tournament
Seventh-seeded Grand Forks Central had not recorded a home run all season. Its timing for its first, second and third home runs was perfect as the Knights edged rival Grand Forks Red River 12-9 in the East Region state-qualifying game Saturday at...
Seventh-seeded Grand Forks Central had not recorded a home run all season.
Its timing for its first, second and third home runs was perfect as the Knights edged rival Grand Forks Red River 12-9 in the East Region state-qualifying game Saturday at Kraft Field.
The win earned Central a trip to next weekend’s state tournament.
“We’re not really known as a home run team,” said Central coach Steve Olson. “We’ve been close a couple of times but we don’t go out there and try to hit home runs. We try to move people around more with our speed since we have some girls that can run.”
Two home runs came off the bat of Stephanie McWilliams, one of which was an inside-the-park homer.
McWilliams, who also hit the go-ahead triple and finished with seven RBI, said she believed that staying patient and calm at the plate was the key to her success.
“I was just thinking base hit,” said McWilliams. “I was just trying to be calm and watch the ball into the bat. I knew I could hit if I was relaxed and focused on the ball.”
Abbie Ferry hit the other Central home run in addition to going 3-for-4 on the day and Deja Miller recorded a pair of hits as well.
While the Central bats were hot, Olson said that wasn’t the case for much of the regular season.
“Our power part of our lineup had not been hitting the ball well until the tournament, then they started to come alive,” said Olson. “We got some big home runs today that were a pivotal part of the game.”
The homers proved to be crucial, as Red River nearly spoiled the Knights’ trip to state in with a late-inning rally.
Red River trailed 7-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, but hits from Meghan Ramage, Gabbe Nuelle, Jerrica Rosendahl, and Morgan Coleman keyed an eight-run inning for the Riders to give them a 9-7 heading into the final inning.
The blown lead, however, didn’t have a big effect on Central.
“I told them until we don’t have an out, we got a shot in this game,” said Olson. “I wanted them to take some pitches and put the pressure on their pitcher to see if we can get them rattled a little bit and that’s exactly what happened.”
This is not an ordinary win for the Knights, as it marks Central’s first-ever trip to the state tournament.
“We obviously have a lot of drawbacks as a team, but the one thing we don’t lack is heart,” said Olson. “You’re going to make errors and that kind of stuff, but if you can limit the mental mistakes you can keep yourself in the game.
“As long as we have outs, we still feel we have a chance to win.”