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Grand Forks Red River makes state softball tournament for first time in 10 years

Red River uses Rylie McQuillan's home run in the first inning en route to 10-2 victory over Grand Forks Central.

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Roughriders infielder Rylie McQuillan tags out sliding Grand Forks Central runner Calleigh Carl (7) at third base during a N.D. East Region state qualifier softball matchup at the Apollo Sports Complex in Grand Forks on Saturday, May 28, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — The Grand Forks Red River softball roster features 10 players who are freshman or younger.

The Roughriders don't have a senior on the roster.

Nobody on the team had been in the position of qualifying for the North Dakota Class A state tournament before.

Even eighth-year head coach Hannah-Rose Rodriguez was new to the notion.

But Red River's youth rose to the occasion in an East Region state qualifier Saturday by defeating rival Grand Forks Central 10-2 at Apollo Park.

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Red River last made state in 2012. The Riders made state in four consecutive years from 2009-12.

"We stayed mentally in there and didn't get rattled in those tough situations," Rodriguez said. "There have been times with our youth that their maturity has shown, but they stayed focused in those tough moments today."

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The Roughriders bullpen celebrates Red River batter Rylie McQuillan's, second from right, home run during a N.D. East Region state qualifier softball game against crosstown rivals Grand Forks Central at the Apollo Sports Complex in Grand Forks on Saturday, May 28, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Red River led the whole way, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a Rylie McQuillan two-run home run over the left-centerfield fence.

"That was very helpful and made me comfortable knowing we had a two-run lead," Red River eighth-grade pitcher Ella Speidel said. "Rylie is one of our key players. She's our captain and the leader of our team."

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Grand Forks Central's Brooklynn Ramsey pitches in the early innings of a N.D. East Region state qualifier softball game against crosstown rivals the Red River Roughriders on Saturday, May 28, 2022 at the Apollo Sports Complex in Grand Forks.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Speidel finished with six strikeouts.

Central cut the Red River lead to 2-1 in the fourth when Morgan Tebelius doubled home Ashley Gereau.

But the Riders put two back on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth when Mya Mannausau's bunt was mishandled and two runs came across to score to pad the lead.

Red River put the game out of reach in the sixth with four runs in the inning as Mannausau, McQuillan, Speidel and Brooklyn Soderberg singled in consecutive order and all four came around to score.

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The Knights couldn't mount a late rally as Central ran into outs on the basepaths three times in the final two innings.

GF Red River 10,
GF Central 2
GFC 000 110 0 — 2 6 4
GFR 200 224 x — 10 10 2
WP — Ella Speidel; LP — Brooklynn Ramsey
Highlights — GFC: Morgan Tebelius 1x3, 2B, RBI, Brooklynn Ramsey 2x3, 2 2Bs, Madeline Stangl 1x3, 2B, RBI, Ava Hensrud 1x1; RR: Mya Mannausau 2x3, Rylie McQuillan 2x4, HR, Ella Speidel 1x2, Taylor Kilgore 2x4, 2B

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Red River's Ella Speidel, right, throws a speedy pitch against a Grand Forks Central batter during a state qualifier softball game as part of the N.D. East Region Tournament held at the Apollo SPorts Complex in Grand Forks on Saturday, May 28, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

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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