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Red River staves off Central comeback three times, wins in extras 8-7

Jocelyn Berg knocks in go-ahead run in the top of the ninth while Ella Speidel throws 121 pitches in complete game victory.

050622 S GFH GGFSOFT-5.jpg
Roughriders runner Jocelyn Berg (10) slides as Grand Forks Central second baseman Brooklynn Ramsey gets low to tag her in the middle innings of a prep softball matchup at the Apollo Sports Complex in Grand Forks on Thursday, May 5, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Seventh-grader Jocelyn Berg stepped up to the plate in the top of the ninth inning with two outs and a runner on second. Grand Forks Red River and Grand Forks Central traded runs back and forth to get to extra innings and now it was time for the youngest Roughrider to deliver on the big stage.

Berg got her pitch and slapped one into right field to score the would-be game-winning run after Red River finally got the three outs they needed to secure the 8-7 win –its third consecutive victory to open the season.

“It ultimately came down to who was going to tough it out at the end, mentally, and get those final three outs. It was all mental toughness at the end,” Red River head coach Hannah-Rose Rodriquez said following the win. “We are in the mindset now that we are more than halfway through the season so we have a lot of work to do in a very short amount of time.”

The win featured a little bit of everything. A complete game from Ella Speidel and the defense behind her kept the Central bats in check while baserunning and timely hits from up and down the lineup allowed them to stay in the driver’s seat in the second half of the game.

The Roughriders headed into the sixth inning with a 4-2 lead, but the Knights also showed resiliency. Morgan Tebelius led off the bottom of the sixth with a triple and an error that sent her all the way around the bases. Then, with two outs, the pinch-running Ramsey Petron was pushed home by a single from Madeline Stangl and an error from shortstop Rylie McQuillan, tying the game 4-4.

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“This game showed the fight that Red River and Central always have. Every inning it was a fight,” Central head coach Brittany Baker McNelly said.

The Roughriders and Knights would again trade two runs in the seventh inning. Red River’s Speidel and Mya Mannausau cashed in RBI singles, but Aubrey Hensrud of Central powered in another two-out 2 RBI single.

The catalyst in each offensive spurt was aggressive baserunning on both sides. Passed balls were quickly taken advantage of and anything that came out of the infield would earn an extra base for the lead runner. Fielders were aware of this and made sure to make adjustments.

“Both teams hit really well with runners in scoring position,” Rodriquez said. “We got a little excited and probably took too many chances when it came to baserunning today.”

Ella Weippert brought in Berg and Maggie Grabanski scored on a passed ball in the eighth inning, setting up the Berg RBI single in the ninth.

On the mound, Speidel was unfazed by the offense and completed her 121-pitch complete game with seven strikeouts and only picking up two earned runs.

“I think there is always added pressure when we play each other. We want to be good with each other, but we also really want to win. And we know that we are always in the middle of the pack so the win between us two is always really tough, mentally,” said Rodriquez.

Despite falling to 1-5 on the year, there are positive takeaways from a game where they were able to battle back in three straight innings. Tebelius and Grabanski each crossed the plate twice by working on the basepath, while the team collected seven hits.

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“Looking at this game and in the future, we have to answer first and we have to keep scoring first,” Baker McNelly said. “The girls work really hard on making adjustments every pitch, so just going in and having some more practices to work on those little things will have us ready for the next game.”

The Knights and Roughriders will now get into a busy schedule to make up for lost time. Each side will have doubleheaders coming up, with Central facing Mandan and Willston on Friday and Red River taking on Mandan and Velva-Drake-Anamoose on Saturday.

Red River 8,

Central 7

RR 010 210 211– 8 15 5

GFC 110 002 210 – 7 7 3

RR: Ella Weippert 2-4, BB, RBI; Mya Mannausau 1-4, BB, RBI; Ella Speidel 2-5, RBI; Elizabeth Nuelle 1-2, 3 BB; Amy Jacobson 3-5, Jocelyn Berg 3-4, BB, RBI; Speidel (W) 9 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO

GFC: Jillian Pulkrabek 2-5; Brooklyn Ramsey 1-5, RBI; Aubrey Hensrud 1-4, 2 RBI; Maggie Grabanski 1-2, 2 BB, 2 R; Morgan Tebelius 1-5, 2 R; Hensrud (L) 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO

Digital Content Producer and Sports Reporter at the Grand Forks Herald since December of 2020. Maxwell can be contacted at mmarko@gfherald.com.
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