N.D. state softball tournament: Red River run ends

MINOT -- West Fargo entered Saturday as the team with the run of 12 consecutive state championships. The Packers were the team with only two defeats in 30 games this season.

MINOT -- West Fargo entered Saturday as the team with the run of 12 consecutive state championships. The Packers were the team with only two defeats in 30 games this season.

And Grand Forks Red River?

"We were probably the underdogs," Roughriders senior catcher Chelsea Carlson said. "Everyone expected West Fargo to win. But you have to come in with the mindset that you're going to win. We knew we could give them a game."

The Packers ran their string of North Dakota high school fastpitch softball titles to 13 straight (11 as a club sport, two as a sanctioned sport). But they had to come up with three runs in the final two innings to edge Red River 5-2 in the title game of the state tournament Saturday.

"It's always tough to lose," Carlson said. "It was a great accomplishment for us to get in the championship game. But it's disappointing to get there and not win."


Red River was down 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning and had only one hit up to that point. But Emily Lundby lined a leadoff single into left to start the inning. Jaiden Hansen later drew a walk and, with two out, Carlson's single to right field drove in both runners to tie the game.

The lead was short-lived, however, as West Fargo's bench came up big.

In the sixth, the Packers had two on and two out when sophomore Harle Andel was called on to pinch hit. The right-handed hitter lined a double deep to dead center, giving West Fargo a 4-2 lead.

"I was surprised (coach Pat Johnson) put me in," Andel said. "I was kind of nervous. But I calmed down and remembered what Pat has been telling us all year. When I hit it, at first I thought it would be caught. Then, it was like, 'Yes!' "

Andel wasn't new to the situation; in fact, it was a repeat of the state title game of a year ago.

"She did exactly the same thing in the championship game last year," Johnson said. "Their (Red River's) pitcher was working the outside part of the plate, and Harle likes hitting the outside pitches. She delivered."

Said Red River coach Mike Bisenius: "Chelsea's hit fired everyone up. That was a huge hit, a momentum changer. But they got the momentum right back when they hit the ball over our center fielder."

West Fargo added another run in the seventh, which was more than enough offense for winning pitcher Kacie Johnson. The right-hander -- the coach's daughter -- retired the final seven batters she faced. Johnson finished strong, just as she started strong -- through the first four innings, Red River managed just one hit and hit just one ball out of the infield.


Red River also was strong defensively. Twice, the Riders' defense turned inning-ending double plays. The second time came in the fourth, when West Fargo loaded the bases with nobody out, but couldn't score. Second baseman Jaiden Hansen also had an outstanding diving catch of a line drive up the middle in the sixth.

"I expected a close game," Bisenius said. "We've played very tough defense. We needed to get our bats going, but we didn't do it consistently.

"You can't give up a lot of runs against West Fargo and expect to win. They're very good defensively, and Johnson is very good, the fastest pitcher we've faced."

Red River closed its season with a 17-7 record.

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