Red River begins East Region tourney with combined no-hitter over Valley City
In the 10-0 win, pitchers Ella Speidel and Jocie Berg combine for eight strikeouts. Ella Weippert goes 4-for-4 on offense with two RBI.
GRAND FORKS – Just three runners made it on base via walk for Valley City on Tuesday in the first round of the East Region softball tournament at Apollo Park. Six strikeouts from Ella Speidel and 10 runs later and the Red River Roughriders completed a two-pitcher no-hitter in five innings during their 10-0 win.
“(The mental side of the game) has kind of set in. We’ve all bought into it and have had lots of success with it, so it’s been very good for us,” Speidel said. “It’s one thing off our minds. It feels good to be able to pitch and not worry about anyone else behind you. When there is someone on base we know our fielders have our backs.”
Speidel did walk the first batter of the game, but fortunately did not let that deter Red River from an opening round gem. Two quick strikeouts turned over the side and let the offense get to work right away. Ella Weippert pulled a ball into left for a single to set up an RBI double from Mya Mannausau for the early lead.
The same combo gave an encore performance on their next at-bats in the third. Weippert singled up the middle and Mannausau drove her in on a hard-hit ball through the infield.
“They know they are good enough to get on base and it is what we do when we get on base that is the difference between our losses and wins. The trust in knowing each runner is going to come up and do it is what we have prided ourselves on,” Red River coach Hannah-Rose Rodriquez said.
In the meantime on the other side of the scoreboard, Speidel continued to attack Valley City batters early in the count and got ahead in the majority of her counts. With pitches that resulted in fielding plays, they were on the ground and successfully put out by infielders.
“They have been doing what has been asked of them all season which is work together. Get in front of batters, stay strong, and they are not afraid to let the ball go in play. That is a big difference between last year and this year,” Rodriquez said.
It ended up being six strikeouts on 67 pitches in the win for Speidel while giving up three walks.
Flashing back to the bottom of the third for Red River, three more runs in quick succession put them in the driver’s seat the rest of the way. Mannausau was brought in via a double from Taylor Kilgore, Elizabeth Nuelle continues the scoring chain by lining a ball into left to score Kilgore and Jocie Berg was just able to get one down in shallow right to drive in Nuelle.
Berg, another strong pitcher for the Roughriders, was brought in for the fifth inning to seal the deal. Tacking on another five runs in the fourth and fifth, Berg made quick work for an answer on the defensive side. She struck out two and retired the side in order.
As these big moments start to increase in value during the postseason, the mental work that has been put in during the offseason and regular season schedule proves its worth when Berg can come into a playoff game and be as efficient as she was while holding a lead.
“We told them from the very beginning they had to buy in. If they trusted that process it would be easy when it would normally be harder. They’ve bought in. Now it is just a natural part of their game. It was all about building before, now it is just about letting it happen,” said Rodriquez.
In total, on the offensive side, Weippert went four-for-four with two RBI, which tied for a team-high with Mannausau and Kilgore. Also collecting an RBI was Rylie McQuillan. The team as a whole notched 16 total bases on 13 hits and two walks.
Red River now advances to the East Region semifinals Friday at West Fargo. The Riders will take on West Fargo Sheyenne.
In another East Region game Tuesday, Sheyenne defeated Grand Forks Central fell 26-2. The Knights will take on Valley City in a loser-out game Friday in West Fargo.