Devils stopped short of nationals

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 10, 2003

The Dawson Community College Buccaneers made the most of their 775-mile trip to Austin by winning three straight softball games Friday and Saturday at Todd Park to qualify for the National Junior College Division III National Tournament.

The host Riverland Community College Blue Devils, the top-seeded team in the Region XIII District B tournament, lost to Dawson in the winners' bracket finals Friday night before bowing out against conference rival Ridgewater Saturday morning.

Ridgewater was defeated by Dawson 4-0 in Saturday's championship finals.

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Riverland still has the top seed out of the MCCC's South Division for next weekend's state tournament to look forward to, but the Blue Devils would rather be heading to nationals.

"It doesn't feel as good as going to nationals but we could still be No. 1 in the state," said Riverland pitcher Marissa Kelsey. "We have a good chance at getting first next week if we do as good as we'd hoped to do today.

"We've got to come out strong next week and come out in first."

After splitting a doubleheader with Ridgewater on Tuesday, Riverland won a 7-3 affair in Friday's opening round. The two teams would meet again in an elimination game, and the Warriors from Willmar got back for a 4-3 victory in eight innings.

"It's frustrating," said Riverland coach Lisa Quednow-Bickler. "The plays that we had all year we just didn't make them today. The hitters we had all year just didn't hit today."

The Devils, the defending MCCC state runner-up, will play Saturday and Sunday at Thief River Falls in hopes of taking the title.

"My sophomores deserve to be at least in the championship game," Quednow-Bickler said.

Erin Evans, a sophomore Lyle/Pacelli graduate, went 5-for-11 with two runs batted in to earn All-Tournament team honors. Abbey Bergstrom, a freshman from Blooming Prairie, allowed two earned runs in 11 innings and was also honored.

Katie Berg, a sophomore from Hayfield, batted 4-8 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Hannah Tvedt went 4-11 with two runs and two RBIs.

Riverland 7, Ridgewater 3

Riverland started strong against Ridgewater in the opening round, knocking the Warriors into the consolation bracket with a 7-3 victory. The Blue Devils scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and withstood a Ridgewater rally in the sixth to advance.

Bergstrom allowed only six hits -- four of which came in the sixth -- for the victory. Evans went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead the Blue Devil bats.

Tvedt and Berg each had RBI-singles in the fifth, and Amber Nash hammered a run-scoring triple. Sarah Moore plated another with a fielder's choice grounder, and two Ridgewater errors also contributed to the seven-run outburst.

Only one of Riverland's seven runs came earned to Ridgewater pitcher Sarah Kavanagh.

Dawson 2, Central Lakes 0

Bucs ace Sami McDonald struck out nine and allowed only two hits as Dawson got through the first round with a 2-0 win over Central Lakes.

McDonald faced early trouble as the Raiders moved runners to third base in each of the second and third innings, but the clutch hits never came for Central Lakes.

Dawson scored twice in the top of the sixth, getting a leadoff double from Michelle Block and back-to-back RBI-singles from Laura Harthan and Kaila Fowler.

Central Lakes pitcher Fawn Kearney struck out three, walked one and allowed three hits in the loss. Heather Jacobson and Jenny Sundlee had the Raiders' only hits.

Dawson 6, Riverland 3

The Buccaneer bats staked McDonald to a 6-0 lead after three innings and Dawson dodged some late-inning bullets as Riverland fell short on its comeback attempt, 6-3, in the finals of the winners' bracket Friday.

Jessica Haugen and Block hit back-to-back doubles to drive in Dawson's first three runs, breaking a scoreless tie in the top of the second. After a leadoff single by Fowler in the third, Brooke Lowman connected with her fifth home run of the season. Haugen, batting No. 9, added an RBI-single.

Whitney Jensen scored a run in each inning, reaching base with a walk both times. The second base on balls came after Kelsey was hit in the leg by Amanda Babon's line drive up the middle. The ball ricocheted to Evans and Babon was thrown out at first.

The 6-0 lead and a line-shot off the shin was enough to chase Kelsey from the circle, but not enough to knock down Riverland's hopes of winning. The Blue Devils battled back with one run in the fourth and two more in the fifth, getting RBI-singles from Tvedt and Evans. Tvedt was cut down trying to score from second on Evans' single to center field.

The Blue Devils got the leadoff runner on base in both the sixth and seventh innings, but McDonald and the Dawson defense was up to the task. Bergstrom walked to start the sixth but was stranded on third. Berg and Beth Harsma had back-to-back singles to start the seventh trailing 6-3, but the Blue Devils could not muster another hit.

Harsma, Tvedt and Berg each had two hits as Riverland racked up seven singles against McDonald. Bergstrom hurled four shutout innings in relief, scattering four hits and two walks.

Ridgewater 4, Riverland 3 (8 innings)

Riverland rallied to tie the game at 3-all in the top of the seventh, but Ridgewater retaliated with three hits in the bottom of the eighth to win the elimination game Saturday morning.

Ridgewater scored two unearned runs to take a 3-2 lead in the sixth, but Riverland got one back to tie the score in the seventh.

The Warriors rapped out 15 hits against Kelsey, who suffered both of the Blue Devils' pitching losses. Ridgewater loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but came up empty as Riverland's bunt coverage and outfield arms stepped up their game.

Sara Koscielniak started the seventh with a single, and Lori Feltmann was plunked by Kelsey on an 0-2 pitch. Sarah Graupmann's sacrifice bunt attempt was fielded by Evans, who fired to Tvedt covering third to get the lead runner.

After a Vicki Buseman single to left, Wendy Lyle lifted a fly ball to Bergstrom in left. The freshman from Blooming Prairie came up firing, throwing out Feltmann at home by three steps.

Riverland got two runners on with two outs in the eighth but did not break through. Ridgewater, however, made the most of its opportunity.

All-Tournament pick Jessie Abbas got her third hit of the game to lead off the home half of the eighth. Jamie Grimm walked and pinch-hitter Tiffany Knott singled off Tvedt's outstretched glove. Leadoff hitter Wendy Mock ripped Kelsey's 2-2 offering to the center field fence, plating Abbas as the game-winning run and eliminating Riverland from the regional tournament.

Dawson 4, Ridgewater 0

Dawson starter Chelsie Rathie and McDonald combined for a five-hit shutout of Ridgewater, 4-0, to clinch a spot at next week's NJCAA National Tournament at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill. The Buccaneers loaded up their bus, stopped for supper and started their trek to Joliet after receiving their championship trophy.

Lowman, who was surprisingly left off the All-Tournament team, was 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. She went 4-11 in the two-day event with a double, a home run and four RBIs. Block and Harthan each went 2-4 against Kavanagh, who pitched all 29 innings in the tournament for Ridgewater.

Rathie got the win with 5 2/3 innings for Dawson. McDonald came in during the sixth and got the final four outs for the save. Riverland was the only team to score against Dawson.

All-Tournament Team


Jessica Haugen, 2B

Whitney Jensen, LF

Laura Harthan, C

Sami McDonald, P


Jessie Abbas, C

Wendy Lyle, SS

Sarah Kavanagh, P


Abbey Bergstrom, P

Erin Evans, 3B