Blue Jays to take on Hi-Liners at softball state tourney
The Jamestown High School softball team will be playing in its first state tournament since 2016 beginning Thursday.
The seven other teams at the 2021 Class A State Softball Tournament will be in trouble if the Blue Jays' bats come alive like they did last Saturday.
In the very first inning of the WDA state-qualifying game between Mandan and the Jays, JHS head coach Marissa Drenth sent 14 batters to the plate, 11 of which ended up scoring. The dominant offensive run put the game to bed earlier than the Braves would have liked.
The Blue Jays topped the Braves 15-1 to advance to their first state tournament since 2016.
"I felt like on Saturday our bats finally came alive up and down the lineup (and we were hitting like) when we were on a roll," Drenth said. "I would definitely like to see the bats carry over and us continue hitting well as a team. We need our pitchers to keep throwing strikes and our defense kind of backing them up."
The Jays will have to find the magic again on Thursday as they are slated to take on East Region champion Valley City in the 11 a.m. quarterfinal at Mandan's Fort Lincoln Field.
"If you don't win in the first round, you have no shot at the title so the focus on that first round is really big," Drenth said.
The Jays swept the Hi-Liners (6-4, 19-3) on April 26 in Valley City. The pair of wins came in the middle of the Jays' dominant 12-game winning streak. Bismarck High, the WDA No. 3 seed heading into the tourney, was the one who knocked the Blue Jays off with a 7-2, 3-2 sweep that came on May 11.
Since the upset, Drenth's squad has struggled to regain their footing. Jamestown clutched up wins against West Fargo Sheyenne and Minot but then fell 7-1 and 11-10 to West Fargo, a team the Jays previously swept 8-5, 8-7. An 11-1, 7-3 loss to WDA regular-season champ, Dickinson, ended the Jays' regular season.
Dickinson will enter the state tourney as the West's No. 2 seed while West Fargo claimed the East's No. 2 spot.
"I think sometimes as hitters, sometimes it's the law of averages," Drenth said. "We've got some girls who are hitting the ball very well, very consistently but sometimes as a hitter, you just get in a slump and I think that got in our heads a little bit.
"We were facing good pitchers and so if your confidence gets knocked at all, it's more difficult to hit (off) those better pitchers."
There was no slumping or lack of confidence over the weekend.
Jamestown had seven of its 13 rostered athletes batting a .333 or better across the three days at the South Hill Softball complex in Minot. Jenna Fischer, Addi Douty and Alyssa Gange led the charge going .500 at the plate and turning in slugging percentages over .500.
Gange, Fischer, Ella Roaldson and Gracie Gunderson all turned in slugging percentages over 1.000. Fischer and Roaldson each had a dinger in the first inning against Mandan to combine for five runs driven in.
On the mound, Blue Jay starter Katie Falk went 14.1 innings and gave up just three runs off eight hits across three games. The sophomore walked five batters and collected Ks on 18.
Senior Payton Gall tossed 3.2 innings in the Jays' 8-4 loss to Dickinson on Friday. The senior gave up seven runs and allowed 11 hits.
Drenth said that staying consistent on the mound and getting the clutch hits will have to be the Jays' focus heading into the first-round matchup.
"Clearly, (Valley City) has been playing well," Drenth said. "When we played them last they kind of caught us on our roll. It's tournament time now and anything can happen. We have to go in focused, do our jobs and hopefully get the win in that first round."
CLASS A SOFTBALL
AT MANDAN, LINCOLN SOFTBALL FIELD
G1: (E1) Valley City vs. (W4) Jamestown, 11 a.m.
G2: (W2) Dickinson vs. (E3) West Fargo Sheyenne, 1 p.m.
G3: (E2) West Fargo vs. (W3) Bismarck, 4 p.m.
G4: (W1) Bismarck Century vs. (E4) Grand Forks Central, 6 p.m.
G5: Loser G1 vs. Loser G2, 11 a.m.
G6: Loser G3 vs. Loser G4, 1 p.m.
G7: Winner G1 vs. Winner G2, 4 p.m.
G8: Winner G3 vs. Winner G4, 6 p.m.
FIFTH: Winner G5 vs. Winner G6, 10 a.m.
THIRD: Loser G7 vs. Loser G8, noon.
FIRST: Winner G7 vs. Winner G8, 3 p.m.