Gnarly knockoff: Sabers pull off upset over top-seeded Mustangs
West Fargo Sheyenne and Bismarck Legacy went head to head in game No. 1 of the 2022 Class A State Softball Tournament.
Bismarck Legacy head softball coach Holly Schild's Apple watch seemed to think she was doing a workout Thursday afternoon.
Schild and the Sabers were in total control for the opening six and a half innings of the 2022 Class A State Softball Tournament, but a four-run rally from West Fargo Sheyenne heightened Schild's heart rate ever so slightly.
"I wasn't exactly nervous," Schild said. "I felt so confident with (pitcher) Tori (Olson) in the circle that I knew that she would do what she needed to do and I was just thinking that if they tie it up, we'll just get to go bat and play defense again.
"I haven't given up on this team all year and now wasn't the time to do that."
The Sabers repaid their head coach's confidence with an impressive 7-6 win over the Mustangs to advance to the state tournament semifinals against Bismarck High on Friday at 4 p.m. at Jamestown's Trapper Field.
West Fargo Sheyenne will go head to head with Grand Forks Red River in the first consolation game on Friday. First pitch is scheduled to be delivered at 11 a.m.
While Legacy entered the team's first-ever state tournament as the No. 4 seed out of the West, the Sabers have a rock-solid defense and some of the strongest pitching in the West with the senior Olson in the circle.
Legacy collected on a pair of Mustang errors right away in the top of the first. Olson batted in Brynn Arnold on a single that was bobbled by left-fielder Mya Migler. Olson then scored on Addison Rolstad's wild throw. The pair of errors gave the fourth-seeded Sabers a 2-0 lead over the top-seeded Mustangs.
Olson delivered her first K of the tourney, retiring Sheyenne's No. 2 batter Alexander, to record the Sabers' second out of the half-inning. Continued pressure from Olson along with some error-less fielding kept the Mustangs to zero hits across two innings. Olson struck out five across two, going, throwing three straight to silence the Mustangs' bats.
"We just kind of emphasized that if we play the same way we have all year and do what we need to do — we really don't have anything to lose," Schild said.
Sheyenne collected a total of five defensive errors, mistakes that helped Legacy rattle off three hits in the third to extend their lead to 5-0 going into the fourth.
Olson picked off batters No. 7 and 8, before a hit by pitch put Sheyenne's Lauren Schauer on first, giving Sheyenne its best chance at cutting the lead to four. Schauer advanced to second on a passed ball but Olson shut down the Mustangs' scoring chance delivering her eighth strikeout — and second — of Narum.
Madison Glienke earned the Mustangs' first hit of the game with a bullet drilled out to the right-field that earned her a single in the bottom of the fourth. Olson was still in control and delivered a strikeout of Addie Rolstad to end the fourth.
The Sabers kept the Mustangs scoreless through the fifth.
"Their pitcher was amazing," West Fargo Sheyenne head coach Mark Woodbury said of Olson. "Their pitcher threw strikes, their pitcher hit her spots, there was a little spin on the ball —those first four innings boy did she keep us in check. That was the difference."
Glienke, the Mustangs' lone senior, turned on an Olson pitch to record the first dinger of the Class A tourney, driving in Kate Geiszler from second to make it a five-run ball game in the bottom of the sixth.
"That was huge," Woodbury said of the home run. "We needed a lift. That was huge for our team and we used that to get back into the game."
West Fargo Sheyenne cycled through 10 batters, four of which wound up scoring to make it a 7-6 ball game. The go-ahead run stood at second when Olson notched her 15th strikeout of the seven-frame marathon.
"I had to dig down deep and get it done," Olson said. "I tried to keep my cool — I got a little frustrated, especially in the seventh, but that last pitch — I knew I had it.
"It feels like all of the hard work I have always put in is really paying off. It feels great to be here."
Legacy 7, WF Sheyenne 6
LEG 203 011 0 — 7 12 1
WFS 000 002 4 — 6 7 5
LEG: Tori Olson; WFS: Kyra Narum; Briley Thompson (4). W — Olson; L — Narum
Highlights: LEG — Olson (7 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 15 K, 4 BB), 2-3; Brynn Arnold 3-4, RBI, 2 2B; Katie LeMoine 1-3, 2 RBI; Emma Owens 2-4, RBI.
WFS — Makenna Alexander 2-4, 2 RBI; Madison Glienke 2-4, 2 RBI, HR; Addison Rolstad 1-3, RBI; Abigail Misialek 2-4.