WEST FARGO, N.D. — Devils Lake may have taken the long route, but the destination is still the same.
After dropping their opening game of the Eastern Dakota Conference softball tournament on Thursday, the Firebirds rebounded in fine fashion by winning two straight games and earning a spot in the state tournament for the third straight year.
Devils Lake, which placed third at the state tournament last season, gets a chance to improve on that beginning on Thursday when the Firebirds take on Minot Ryan in the opening round of this year’s state tournament.
West Fargo defeated Fargo North 9-0 in the EDC championship game. Both the Packers and Spartans will be playing in the state tournament, as will Grand Forks Red River, which defeated Fargo Shanley 8-4 in the other state-qualifying game on Saturday. The Deacons had defeated Devils Lake in the opening round of the tournament.
“Our girls played some solid fundamental softball,” Devils Lake coach Kayla Frappier said after her team defeated Valley City 3-2 in a state-qualifying game. “We only had one or two errors ... and that was key. When we can limit those we are a pretty good team.”
Devils Lake scored one run in each of the first two innings against the Hi-Liners and never trailed in the game. Valley City managed to close to within 2-1 with a run in the fourth inning, but Devils Lake answered with a tally in the next inning to regain its two-run advantage and then held off the Hi-Liners to secure the win.
Alyssa Hornstein earned the win in the circle for the Firebirds.
“We really played solid softball for seven innings,” said Frappier, who was voted coach of the year last season after leading the Firebirds to their best-ever finish at the state tournament. “We also really hit the ball well against a very good Valley City pitcher.
“That was what tournament softball is all about,” Frappier added.
Devils Lake 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 — 3 6 2
Valley City 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 — 2 3 1
WP?— Alyssa Hornstein. LP — Fogarty.
Devils Lake 4, GF?Central 2
Kayla Trottier doubled and drove in a run and Jennifer Mertens and Autumn Wang combined for three more hits for Devils Lake as the Firebirds remained alive in the EDC tournament with a 4-2 win over Grand Forks Central in an elimination game on Friday.
Devils Lake scratched out three runs in the second inning to take command of the game. The Knights were able to score twice in the fourth inning to close the gap, but were never able to overtake the Firebirds as their season came to a close with the loss.
Mertens finished with two hits in three plate appearances and Wang collected one hit. Wang, a senior, was voted to the all-EDC team the following day.
Hornstein earned her second win of the tournament and allowed the Knights to six hits in the contest.
GF Central 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 — 2 6 2
Devils Lake 0 3 0 1 0 0 x — 4 7 1
WP — Hornstein. LP — M. Johnson.
Devils Lake: Autumn Wang. Fargo Davies: Kendra Pahl. Fargo North: Courtney Johnson, Jordan Novacek, Morgan Shelton, Mara Teschendorf. Fargo Shanley: Madison Little, Marissa Schons, Dayton Schwan. Grand Forks Central: Michaela Johnson. Grand Forks Red River: Emily Lundby, Brenna Nakonechny. Valley City: Deirra Diegel. West Fargo: Sydney Greenlund, Lexi Lennon, Brittany Rheault, Brooke Rheault, Jolene Woodbury.
EDC Coach of the Year
Aaron Kliniske, Fargo North