By Harry Lipsiea
A successful first season for the Lake Region State College came to end Saturday at the Region XIII tournament in Bismarck. The Royals fell to Dakota County Technical College 14-4 in the opener before dropping a close 7-5 defeat to Bismarck State College.

By Harry Lipsiea A successful first season for the Lake Region State College came to end Saturday at the Region XIII tournament in Bismarck. The Royals fell to Dakota County Technical College 14-4 in the opener before dropping a close 7-5 defeat to Bismarck State College.

Region XIII tourney

Dakota County jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top half of the first inning but in the bottom half of the inning, Rebecca Gurski blasted a home run to left to cut the lead to 3-1. In the third inning, DCTC scored 6 off of 6 hits to lead 9-1.

Again, in the bottom of the inning, the Royals responded with Samone Motley lining a solo home run to center field cutting the lead to seven at 9-2. The Royals were not able to match the scoring and Dakota County scored five in the top of the fifth to stretch the lead to 14-2. In the bottom of the fifth, Samone Motley lead off with a single, Breanne Heinrichs hit into a fielders choice, then Rebecca Gurski blasted her second home run of the game bringing the final score to 14-4 in favor of Dakota County Technical College.

In the second game, Lake Region State College matched up with Bismarck State College (BSC) in another close match-up. The Mystics of BSC jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first after center fielder Katie Clark blasted a home run out to left center.

The Royals responded in the 4th with a show of power of their own. Jenny Mertens launched a home run to center then two batters later Macie Helten followed suit hitting a home run to left center putting the Royals ahead 2-1.

In the top of the sixth, the wheels fell off for the Royals. The Mystics were able to score 6 runs. The killer came with bases loaded and two outs. With a full count and the runners going on the pitch, Sam Wolf of BSC dribbled a slow roller to the pitcher but everyone was safe after the throw home. The following hitter, Mikaila Wax, doubled off the wall clearing the bases.

However, the Royals did not quit, Jenny Mertens lead off the inning hitting her second home run of the game cutting the lead to 3-7. Then in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, Rebecca Gurski hit her third home run of the tournament to cut the lead to 7-5. But that was all the Royals could come up with. Macie Helten went 3-3 at the plate with a single, double and home run.

Jenny Mertens was 2-4 with two home runs and Rebecca Gurski was 1-4 with a home run. Breanne Heinrichs handled the pitching duties giving up 6 earned runs, 1 walk, 2 strike outs, 10 hits, and 2 home runs.

Special season

Despite the losses, it was a historic initial campaign for the Royals. With a roster full of freshmen, Lake Region State College finished its first season with a very respectable record of 9-23 and a conference mark of 8-10.

“Honestly, the season went even better than I could have expected,” head coach Kory Boehmer stated. “By the end of the season the team was competitive in every single game we played and that’s exactly what we hoped for.”

While Boehmer was pleased with all aspects of his team’s development, the Royals became known across the conference and region as a power hitting team. This season, Lake Region State College hit 22 homers in often tough playing conditions. Rebecca Gurski was the team’s top hitter with nine homers, 18 RBIs and an average of .398.

Samone Motley added four homers and 15 RBIs with an average of .357. Brianne Hunt finished the season hitting with a .364 batting average. Jenny Mertens, .271, Morgan Titus, .260, and Macie Helten, .221 combined for nine additional homers. Breanne Heinrichs hit .263 on the year.

“Offensively, I was very impressed with how we did this season,” Boehmer told the Journal. “We spent a lot of time on the art of hitting and it really showed.”

Breanne Heinrichs was the Royals’ pitcher for the majority of their games logging 100 innings. She had a record of 5-12 and finished with an ERA of 7.98.

For the coaching staff, one of the most impressive parts of the season was how much the squad progressed in a short amount of time. The Royals opened up the campaign with a trip to Arizona over spring break. While Lake Region dropped its games down south, the experience proved to be extremely important. As the year went on, the athletes made great strides.

Boehmer notes that the team was extremely competitive in conference and region play.

“To be in so many close, hard-fought games as a first-year program is great,” he commented. “We saw a lot of tremendous improvement from each of the players this season.”

With its first season in the books, the Lake Region State College fastpitch softball team is already looking forward to its 2015 campaign.

With an excellent core of returning athletes, added experiences and a new crop of freshmen, there no reason to be anything to be optimistic. The returning sophomores are excited to work hard in the offseason and improve, Boehmer stated.

“The players coming back have raised their expectations,” the coach stated. “They know exactly what they have to do to be successful.”

Ultimately, Boehmer is extremely proud of the group for their efforts in getting the program off the ground. It is a tremendous team to work with, he stated.

“This is an excellent group. Each of them has become family,” the head mentor said. “I am tremendously proud of every single player for their effort throughout the season. They did everything we asked of them.”