Spring sport college athletes have plenty of things that can keep their minds occupied when the calendar flips to May.
The University of Jamestown college softball team, which swept a conference doubleheader against the Presentation College Saints 7-6 and 15-5 on Saturday, is no exception. The Jimmies wrap up the regular season on Wednesday with a second doubleheader against the Saints at Jamestown’s Lyle Lawrence Field starting at 3 p.m.
Beginning Friday, the dial then gets cranked up a notch. The Jimmies play host to the postseason North Star-Frontier tournament with a date to the NAIA national tournament on the line, and Jimmie head softball coach Kevin Gall made where he expects his athletes’ focus to be crystal clear.
“I always worry this time of year that the girls are thinking too much about what they’re going to be doing this summer, and what everyone else is going to be doing this summer,” Gall said. “I think with a young team it really has to be pounded home that our intention is not to be going home on May 10th, it’s about practicing and getting ready to play in some type of national playoff round.
“That’s got to be our primary focus, and if we have people in the dugout thinking about what they’ll be doing this summer more than the game of softball, we don’t want them in the dugout.”
The Saints have plenty of offensive firepower, and they put it on display in the first of Saturday’s games against the Jimmies.
Presentation and the Jimmies each plated six runs in the first two innings, with the Saints’ Shelby Anderson and Brenda Botzenhart each going deep on Jimmie starter Emily Snow in the second. Anderson’s homer was a two-run shot to center while Botzenhart blasted a solo homer to left that cleared the Newman-built fence that stands 275 feet away from home plate.
“They had us on the run there for most of that game for sure,” Gall said. “In the first game every ball they hit was finding the gap. It wasn’t a matter of us not playing good defensively. It was a matter of them hitting the ball well.”
Snow was replaced in the circle by Hanna Dunnigan with two outs in the second. Snow allowed seven hits but was only charged with two earned runs.
Dunnigan put in a fine effort in relief to collect the win, holding Presentation off the scoreboard over the final five innings. The freshman from Fresno, California, allowed just three hits and racked up seven strikeouts.
“That was nice to see. She seemed to have more velocity when she pitched (Saturday),” Gall said. “Honestly, we had intentions of bringing Emily back in. She was having trouble throwing her changeup for strikes, and we were thinking we’d put Hanna in there and at least calm (Presentation) down a bit.
“But one good inning led to another good inning, and another good inning led to another, so we were able to stay with Hanna.”
The Jimmies plated the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Hattie Fullmer. Fullmer, Courtney Van den Bussche and Autumn Wang all went 2-for-3 for the Jimmies. Van den Bussche scored three times in the game, while Fullmer drove in a pair.
Anderson, Botzenhart and Jessie Ihly each had a multi-hit game for the Saints. Danielle Naumann (6 IP, 10 hits, 7 earned runs) shouldered the loss.
The bats really came to life for the Jimmies during their 10-run, five-inning win in the second game. Jamestown pounded out 18 hits in all and broke the game open with eight runs in the bottom of the second to take a commanding 9-0 lead.
Fullmer went 4-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs, while Wang went 3-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and a pair of runs driven in.
Van den Bussche also stayed hot, going 3-for-4 with two runs, as nine Jimmies recorded a hit. Karyssa Marbet took the loss for the Saints, after allowing 11 earned runs on 14 hits.
“Their pitcher had a decent changeup, but nothing was really moving for her (on Saturday). It seemed like we were getting the barrel on it a lot,” Gall said. “We hit the ball well. When you have an eight-run inning, you usually win.”
Mandy Thiessen notched the win for Jamestown, allowing five earned runs, while striking out three through four innings. Dunnigan pitched a hit-less fifth inning to wrap it up.
The Jimmies improved to 21-21 overall and 10-4 in the North Star Athletic Association. Jamestown’s Wednesday doubleheader against the Saints (19-23, 7-7 NSAA) was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was moved because of the weather.
“I thought we hit the ball pretty good and you hope that happens this time of year. With a team like Presentation, they give us some problems,” Gall said. “They probably have the best hitter in the league (Botzenhart), so it’s certainly a situation where we’ve got to play close to our best ball (Wednesday).”
University of Jamestown 7, Presentation College 6
PC 150 000 0 — 6 10 1
UJ 450 100 x — 7 10 2
Danielle Naumann and Shelby Anderson. Emily Snow, Hanna Dunnigan (2) and Megan Heriot. W—Dunnigan (7-8). L—Naumann. 2B—PC, Brenda Botzenhart, Hailey Haukeli. UJ, Tylynn McKeever, Autumn Wang. HR—PC, Botzenhart, Anderson. SB—PC, Phillips, Pantle, Anderson. UJ, Courtney Van den Bussche, Hattie Fullmer, Connie Miller.
Jamestown 15, Presentation College 5, 5 Innings
PC 002 30 — 5 6 7
UJ 186 0x — 15 18 1
Karyssa Marbet, Danielle Naumann (3) and Anderson. Mandy Thiessen, Dunnigan (5) and Sydney Greenlund. W—Thiessen (7-2). L—Marbet. 2B—PC, Anderson. UJ, Wang, Fullmer, Greenlund, Emily Newman. SB—UJ, Wang.
Records: University of Jamestown 21-21, 10-4 NSAA; Presentation College 19-24, 7-7 NSAA.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at 701-952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org