Firebirds blank Deacons 7-0 in state tournament

Ray Maloney, Sports

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Behind the golden arm of standout pitcher Alexis Fee Devils Lake moved one game closer to unchartered territory.

Fee, a senior, struck out 12 and walked just one batter as the Firebirds moved into the semifinal round of the state softball tournament with a 7-0 blanking of Fargo Shanley in the opening round on Thursday at Apollo Park.

Devils Lake, which lost all three games in last year’s state tournament, will take on Century today in one semifinal game. The Patriots defeated Valley City 8-3 in Thursday’s first round. Defending state champion West Fargo blanked Minot Ryan 9-0 and Grand Forks Red River cruised past Fargo North 8-1 in Thursday’s other quarterfinal games. The Packers and Roughriders will play to determine Saturday’s opponent for either Devils Lake or Century for the state championship.

“(Fee) absolutely dominated the game (Thursday),” Devils Lake coach Kayla Frappier said. “She controlled her pitches, got ahead in the count and caught batters off balance on multiple occasions.”

Oh, Fee also benefitted by solid defense behind her as the Firebirds did not commit any errors in the contest.

Devils Lake wasted little time in setting the tone. The Firebirds pushed across two runs in the opening inning and never looked back.

“The first inning was key for us,” Frappier said. “Getting on the scoreboard early removes a lot of pressure and builds confidence ... after that (Fee) ran with the momentum.”

The fifth inning proved to be the undoing for Shanley as Devils Lake scored four times to increase its lead to 7-0. And the Firebirds did it all on just one hit.

“We put the ball in play and did the best we could to get the girls around the bases,” Frappier said.

Shanley’s last threat was thwarted when Devils Lake right fielder Miriah Yoder robbed Hillary Rotunda of a hit when she snared a line drive off Rotunda’s bat for the third out in the sixth inning.

“It was a moment that gave us the adrenaline to finish the last inning strong,” said Frappier, whose team improved to 14-4 on the season with the win.

Autumn Wang collected two hits, including a double, for the Firebirds and also scored a pair of runs.

Fee and Samone Motley each drove in a pair of runs for Devils Lake.

Rotunda took the loss in the circle for the Deacons. She surrended seven hits while striking out six and walking three.

Devils Lake              2 0 1 0 4 0 0   —   7   7   0

Fargo Shanley              0 0 0 0 0 0 0   —   0   3   7