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Red River's Riley McQuillan rounds out game to lift Roughriders to state softball tournament

Red River plays Bismarck High at 1 p.m. Thursday in Jamestown. The Riders made the state tournament for the first time since 2012.

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The Roughriders celebrate 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
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GRAND FORKS — A year ago, Grand Forks Red River's Riley McQuillan was voted the team's defensive player of the year as a freshman.

As a sophomore this year, McQuillan has added the offense.

That total package has helped propel the Roughriders to their first state tournament since 2012. Red River opens state Thursday at 1 p.m. against Bismarck High in Jamestown.

"I feel like I was able to make better contact, keeping my head on the ball and making solid contact," McQuillan said.

McQuillan is hitting .464 this year with a team-high four home runs, eight doubles, 24 runs and 25 RBIs. The shortstop was a notable snub, however, from the all-East Region team.

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Red River teammates Ella Weippert, a sophomore centerfielder, and Ella Speidel, an eighth-grade pitcher, were chosen to the team.

"The others really deserve it," McQuillan said. "It's a goal for me for next year then."

McQuillan was certainly one of the region's top performers at last weekend's Eastern Dakota Conference tournament in Grand Forks.

McQuillan was 7-for-10 at the plate with a home run and a double through the three games.

Red River, without a senior in its lineup, started the season with the goal of making the state tournament.

"Wins would be great (at state) but anything extra here is really just icing on top," Red River coach Hannah-Rose Rodriguez said.

In addition to McQuillan, three other Riders are batting better than .400 this year. Eighth-grader catcher Ella Nelson is hitting .465, Weippert is batting .453 and freshman Brooklyn Soderberg is hitting .412.

GF Red River

Coach: Hannah-Rose Rodriguez.

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Record: 11-7.

State matchup: Red River, the East’s No. 3 seed, faces West No. 2 Bismarck High at 1 p.m. Thursday in Jamestown.

Top hitters: Eighth-grader C Ella Nelson .465, soph. SS Riley McQuillan .464, soph. CF Ella Weippert .453, fr. IF Brooklyn Soderberg .412, jr. IF Liz Nuelle .395, fr. 2B Mya Mannausau .370, seventh-grader IF Jocelyn Berg .370, eighth-grader P Ella Speidel .368, eighth-grader IF Amy Jacobson .364, fr. IF Taylor Kilgore .308, fr. OF Brooke Dorsey .263.

Top pitcher: Speidel 9-2, 94 Ks, 2.90 ERA.

State tournament history: Red River is back at state for the first time since 2012. Softball was first sanctioned in 2009. The Riders have no state titles but finished runner-up in 2010.

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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