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Grand Forks Red River's eighth-grade pitcher strikes out eight in playoff win over Valley City

Ella Speidel eclipsed 100 career strikeouts during the game and wrapped up the seventh inning with strikeouts for all three outs.

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Red River Roughriders pitcher Ella Speidel winds up on the mound in the sixth inning of a N.D. East Region quarterfinals softball game versus the Valley City Hi-Liners held at the Apollo Sports Complex in Grand Forks on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — When Grand Forks Red River's fielding errors mounted Tuesday night with six in the final two innings, the Roughriders' battery rose above to earn an Eastern Dakota Conference quarterfinal win.

Impressive, considering neither the pitcher nor the catcher attend high school yet.

Eighth-grade pitcher Ella Speidel and eighth-grade catcher Ella Nelson worked together to help No. 3 Red River hold off No. 6 Valley City 8-4 at Apollo Park.

"Just had to stay calm and throw strikes and let the fielders behind you do the work," Speidel said.

Speidel finished the game with eight strikeouts including recording all three outs in the seventh on strikeouts. Early in the game, Speidel was recognized for passing the milestone of 100 career strikeouts. She now has 106.

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"She did really good and stayed mentally tough through it all," said sophomore shortstop Rylie McQuillan, who knocked in four runs with three hits including a two-run double in the first inning. "She got the key strikeouts to help us win the game."

The Roughriders, who improved to 10-6, will play No. 2 West Fargo in the final contest of Friday's EDC games. After quarterfinals were hosted by top seeds, the remainder of the tournament will be played out in Grand Forks on Friday and Saturday.

The Red River-West Fargo game is set for approximately 5 p.m., depending on the pace of the previous three games, which begin at 11 a.m.

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Roughriders runner Amy Jacobson leads off third base as Red River batter Rylie McQuillan (11) connects with a Valley City pitch during a N.D. East Region softball quarterfinals game at the Apollo Sports Complex in Grand Forks on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Leading 8-4 in the top of the sixth inning, the Riders escaped what could of been a devastating inning.

In the sixth, the Hi-Liners loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to two errors and a Dylann Diegel single.

But Valley City failed to score in the inning. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Valley City's Kinlee Sufficool hit a ball toward shortstop. As Red River's defender bobbled the ball, the Hi-Liners were called out for runner interference on the basepaths. Officials ruled the Valley City runner between second and third prevented the Red River shortstop from playing the hard grounder.

The runner interference zapped the big inning, momentum and took a run off the board for the Hi-Liners, who followed with a fielder's choice force-out at home and an infield pop-up to end in the inning without scoring a run.

Another trio of Red River errors in the seventh inning let the Hi-Liners put the tying run at the plate. Speidel, however, left the bases loaded by picking up a third strikeout in the seventh inning.

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In addition to Speidel and Nelson as eighth-grade starters, the Riders also start eighth-grader Amy Jacobson in left field.

"They've really, really grown and been mature and made it easy to coach them," Red River coach Hannah-Rose Rodriguez said. "They're learning, and we're excited we get them for so long."

Red River will face an extra challenge Friday, as some of the Riders compete in track and field, as well. The state track meet is this weekend in Bismarck.

Red River freshman second baseman Mya Mannausau, who batted second and scored twice against Valley City, will likely miss the remainder of the tournament, while starting sophomore centerfielder Ella Weippert, who hit leadoff against the Hi-Liners, plans to throw the javelin Friday and return for the final day of the softball tournament Saturday.

EDC Tournament
Tuesday's quarterfinals
West Fargo Sheyenne 11, Grand Forks Central 1, 6 inn.
Fargo North 19, Fargo South 10
West Fargo 10, Devils Lake 0, 5 inn.

GF Red River 8,
Valley City 4
RR 202 220 x — 8 6 6
VC 010 120 0 — 4 6 5
WP — Ella Speidel; LP — Sydney Larsen
Highlights — RR: Speidel 8 Ks, Rylie McQuillan 3x4, 2B, 4 RBIs, Mya Mannausau 2 runs, Ella Nelson 1x3, run, Liz Nuelle 1x3, RBI, Amy Jacobson 1x2, run, RBI

Friday's games
In Grand Forks
Consolation — Grand Forks Central vs. Fargo South, 11 a.m.; Devils Lake vs. Valley City, 30 minutes after GFC/South
Championship semifinals — West Fargo Sheyenne vs. Fargo North, 30 minutes after DL/VC; West Fargo vs. Grand Forks Red River, 30 minutes after WFS/FN

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Red River's Rylie McQuillan slides to beat the tag by Valley City short stop Kinlee Sufficool, left, as Hi-Liner second baseman Autumn McGough, right, looks on during a N.D. East Region quarterfinals softball game at the Apollo Sports COmplex in Grand Forks on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Related Topics: GF RED RIVER
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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