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Blue Jay softball, baseball confident heading into WDA tourneys

The Jamestown High School baseball and softball teams are preparing for the West Region baseball and softball tournaments this weekend.

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Jamestown's Rylee Joseph lets a high pitch pass by during a game April 28, 2022, at Trapper Field.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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Some might say non-conference games don't matter but to Mike Soulis and the Jamestown High School softball team — two games that have meant a great deal were ones that did not count in the West Region standings.

"Sweeping West Fargo the way we did gives us momentum going into WDA because we swept one of the top teams in the East and that felt good," JHS senior catcher Jenna Fischer said. "I think it’s a confidence thing — and we were playing to have fun."

Jamestown's pair of wins against the Packers improved the team's overall record to 16-8, to put them at the No. 5 seed heading into the West Region tournament. Jamestown and Bismarck Legacy both finished out the conference schedule with a record of 10-6 but Legacy wound up with the tie-break over Jamestown, earning them the fourth seed.

The Jays and Sabers are slated to face off in the opening round of the conference tourney. The first pitch is scheduled to be delivered at 1 p.m. on Thursday at Bismarck's Sanford Sports Complex.

"I think we needed that," Soulis said of the team's win over West Fargo. "We let a couple get away during the regular season against Minot so to bounce back like that — it was a good combination of a lot of things and that will lead to us being successful."

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The Blue Jays tallied 22 hits in the 14 innings played against the Packers — six of which landed outside the fence. Fischer kicked the dinger contest off with a long ball in the opening frame which was followed by a pair of four-baggers from Ella Falk and one from Rylee Joseph.

In game No. 2, Torrie Mack and Makenna Nold made good on a pair of pitches to add homers to their stat lines. Fischer, Mack, Nold, Falk, Katie Falk and Alyssa Gange all had at least two hits on the day.

Jamestown was one bad hop away from being perfect across the 14 innings. In game No. 2, the team's, error-free contest, Fischer had the most chances in the field with nine.

West Fargo has the most state titles of anyone in the Class A fastpitch scene with 10. The Packers' last title came in 2019 when they defeated Bismarck High 8-6.

Minot won the 2018 title, defeating Dickinson 4-2 while Dickinson proved untouchable last season, shutting out BHS 10-0 en route to its first-ever fastpitch state title.

While the Jays have not yet earned a fastpitch state title, Soulis said the squad has all the tools in the team toolbox needed to garner the team's first-ever state title trophy.

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Jamestown's Jenna Fischer makes a catch at home plate Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at "Trapper" Field.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Jamestown currently has six of its 13 rostered athletes batting a .308 or better across the 24 regular-season games. Fischer (.422) Falk (.427) and Nold (.500) have led the charge at the plate, turning in slugging percentages over .600.

The trio of hot bats has combined for 13 of the team's 25 home runs.

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On the mound, Falk has gone 78.2 innings and has given up just 51 runs across 102 hits. The junior has walked 12 batters and collected Ks on 93. She currently holds an ERA of 3.470.

Nold has tossed 73.1 innings. The sophomore hurler has given up 54 runs on 71 hits and has a pitch count quickly approaching 1500.

The pure grittiness the Jays have produced over the course of the season will be needed over the three days in the capital city.

"The West is hard — we are going to have to play well this weekend to advance to next weekend," Soulis said. "It's a tough conference and the top four teams that come out of this are going to be successful next weekend at the state tournament. What makes the West so hard is just the grittiness and athleticism of our athletes."

Soulis said the Jays are still hitting the basics heading into postseason play so as to keep the fundamentals sharp. The team is also going to work on some situational plays so they maintain focus and stay alert on some uncommon-type plays.

Fischer said she thinks the biggest thing come game time will be adjusting early on to different kinds of pitches like rise, curve and screw balls. The senior said that if the Jays hit as they did in Fargo, and stay strong mentally, the Sabers — and other potential WDA opponents — could be in trouble.

No hit is going to come easy though.

Soulis said the last time that the Jays faced Legacy, the team did not hit the ball all that well, only recording seven hits in the team's 1-0 defeat of the Sabers on May 3. Tori Olson retired 10 Blue Jay batters in game No. 1 of the conference doubleheader. In the second game, the Jays wound up falling 14-3 and only put six hits on the board compared to Legacy's 15.

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'We've seen as good of pitching since then and we've hit the ball so we just need to put the ball in play and give our pitchers some help," Soulis said. "Other than one game against Minot, our bats have been pretty good this year and we're kind of hoping that continues against Legacy.

"Our goal at the start of the season was to make it to the state tournament so now we just need to take care of ourselves Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and play well and finish up the year in Jamestown at Trapper Field."

Baseball to face Century in WDA quarterfinals

One hour after Soulis and the softball squad kicks off their quarterfinal gamer Thursday, Jack Bowman and the Blue Jay baseball team will take to the field to try and get their first win of the weekend.

"We're feeling fine," Bowman said in an interview following the Jays' final regular-season game. "Our pitching has been really good and that has carried us all year. That's just been our thing so I feel pretty good."

The Blue Jays are set to face off against the fourth-seeded Century in the opening round of the WDA tournament. Play is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. in Mandan.

Jamestown dropped to Century early on in the season, falling 7-3, 4-1 but have since claimed some must-win games in order to get back to the region tournament.

Last season, the Jays lost out on a WDA tourney berth, dropping 6-5 to Bismarck High in a play-in game that ended their season a smidgen too early for their liking.

"We're thankful we don't have a play-in game this year," JHS junior Jackson Walters said following the team's 6-5 defeat of Minot on May 20. "We played well throughout the season which helps a lot and pulled out some wins that we needed.

"Going into the tournament right away is going to be nice, we'll have a week of practice and be ready to go 100% by tournament time."

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Jamestown's Jackson Walters (24) looks to tag out Ben Zenker (2) of Saint Mary's at second base on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at Jack Brown Stadium.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Related Topics: BLUE JAYS SOFTBALLBLUE JAYS BASEBALLPREP SPORTSJAMESTOWN BLUE JAYS
Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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