ABERDEEN, S.D. – Top-seed Jamestown (N.D.) used a fast start in the second game of the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Softball Championships Series Best of 3 Sunday afternoon, holding off third-seed Dickinson State's (N.D.) seventh-inning offense outburst for a 5-3 victory to force Game 3 on Monday.
The No. 15-ranked Jimmies (43-7 overall record) won their 19th time in the last 20 games, while the Blue Hawks (29-19 overall record) suffered its only third defeat in the last 14 games. Game 3 is set for Monday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. (Central Time)/12:30 p.m. (Mountain Time), with the winner moving on to the NAIA Softball National Tournament Opening Round on May 14-16.
UJ opened up the game by scoring two runs in the top first. Emma Keller led off with a single and advanced to second base after a wild pitch committed by DiSU's Abi Brooks. Mikayla Frost drilled an RBI double to score Keller for Jimmies' first lead of the game at 1-0. Frost scored home after a passed ball by Brooks for UJ's 2-0 lead.
Sydney Prussia and Keller each hit an RBI double to widen Jamestown's lead to 4-0 in the top sixth. The Jimmies made it 5-0 in the top seventh after an RBI single by Caitlyn Courtney, who pinch hit for Kelly Halverson.
Kat Miska (W, 15-2) shook off their Game 1 struggle by tossing six scoreless innings for the Jimmies before the Blue Hawks' offense rallied back in the final inning.
Sarah Dobitz hit a lead-off single in the bottom seventh for DiSU. Andrea Rodriguez followed up with an RBI double to score Dobitz for Blue Hawks' first run (DiSU trailed 5-1).
Dickinson State continued its scoring outburst with another RBI double with one out by Rachael Dillon to score Rodriguez to cut UJ's lead to 5-2.
The Blue Hawks reduced their deficit to 5-3 when Mariah Gamboa produced an RBI single to score Dillon.
Brittany Rheault (S, 2) closed the game by retiring the final two DiSU's batters to force the third and deciding game.
Keller led the Jimmies' offense attack with three hits (one double) and an RBI. Meghan Ramage added two hits. Tifani Schorzman, Courtney and Prussia each collected a hit and an RBI.
Dillon and Rodriguez each had a double, single and an RBI for Blue Hawks. Sonja Lawrence and Dobitz each had two hits.
Miska worked for six-plus innings and allowed one run on eight hits for UJ. She recorded four strikeouts.
Brooks (L, 14-8) took the loss in the pitching circle for DiSU. She gave up three runs on seven hits in six-plus innings. Jalen Creech pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief, allowing two runs on three hits.
Jamestown stranded 10 runners on base in the game compared to Dickinson State seven runners left on base.
It's the third consecutive year that the North Star's Softball Championship Series had went to the third and deciding game.
Dickinson State and Jamestown had met in the 2015 championship game as part of the double-elimination tournament, with the Blue Hawks coming from the loser's bracket to defeat Jimmies twice in the championship game. DiSU also won the North Star in three games against Valley City State (N.D.) in 2016, followed by Jamestown winning the 2017 tournament in three games versus Bellevue (Neb.).
Nick Huntimer, North Star Athletic Association Sports Information DIrector