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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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