ABERDEEN, S.D. – Due to the threat of rain in the forecast for Monday's scheduled North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Softball Championship Series deciding game, the third game was played Sunday evening at Players Softball Complex. Second-seeded Valley City State (N.D.) jumped to a 1-0 lead, but were held scoreless for the rest of the game as the top overall seed Dickinson State (N.D.) scored a 2-1 thriller.
Dickinson State (45-10 overall record) claimed the league's automatic bid to the NAIA Softball National Tournament Opening Round, which will be held on the campus sites announced by the NAIA national office on May 16-18.
Katie Cameron hit a single with two outs in the opening inning for the Vikings. Cejay Hilhorst followed up with an RBI double to score Cameron for VCSU's 1-0 lead.
The Blue Hawks answered back with a run scored in the top second frame. Monique Yslas reached on base by a single. Samantha Hardwick recorded a sacrifice bunt to advance Yslas to second base. Morgan Glowa hit a two-out RBI single to score Yslas as DiSU knotted the game at 1-1.
Mckenna Kostelecky produced an RBI sacrifice fly to score Andrea Rodriguez as DiSU earned their first lead at 2-1 in the top fifth frame.
Valley City State could not convert their scoring opportunities as they left all three runners on base in the bottom fifth inning. VCSU also left runners on second and first bases in the bottom sixth.
The Vikings went 1-2-3 in the final inning as the Blue Hawks claimed back-to-back NSAA Softball Conference Tournament Champions.
Vargas was reached safely on first base by a walk four times in the game for Dickinson State. Glowa added a single and an RBI. Yslas, McKenzie Bassett, and Grayson each had a single. Kostelecky collected an RBI.
Abigail Brooks started the game for DiSU. She tossed 2 1/3 innings and gave up one run on five hits. Alexzandria Watson (W, 25-3) earned the victory after pitching 4 2/3 scoreless innings. She allowed three hits, three walks and struck out three VCSU's batters.
Valley City State had a game-high nine team hits in the game, led by Cameron who went 3-of-4 at the plate with three singles. Hilhorst added a double and an RBI. Katarina Boychuk, Hamade, Cassie Pautz, Taylor Schroeder and Tatum Lundin each added a hit. Boychuk and Hilhorst each reached on base by a walk twice.
Ashley Metcalf pitched the first 3 1/3 innings of the game in the pitching circle for the Vikings. She allowed one run on three hits and gave up four walks. Morgan Nalley (L, 22-7) recorded the loss in relief, despite giving up one run on one hit in 3 2/3 innings of work.
VCSU left 11 runners on base compared to DiSU 8 runners left on base.
Dickinson State awaits to hear on where they will be going for the NAIA Softball National Tournament Opening Round on May 16-18. The pairings will be announced on Wednesday by the NAIA national office.
Valley City State, who is in the receiving votes section of the NAIA Softball Coaches' Top 25 national poll, owns a school record victories with an overall record of 40-13. The Vikings will have to wait and see the results of the NAIA's Top 25 poll coming out on Tuesday if they will receive one of the at-large bids to the national tournament or not.
Nick Huntimer, North Star Athletic Association Sports Information Director