X-factor: what each high school softball team must work on to finish 2022 season

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – Summer is fast approaching, and that only means the high school softball campaign is nearing its zenith, even if the recent weather lulls might not suggest it right off the bat (no pun intended). As such, the Devils Lake Firebirds, Langdon/Edmore/Munich Cardinals and Dakota Prairie Knights have the stretch run to look forward to as the 2022 NDHSAA Class A and B State Tournament inches closer to them (June 2-4). 

So, what is the x-factor they need to clamp down on for the final push? Let’s dig in. 

Devils Lake: 

The x-factor: Pitching first, but sticking to the simplicities second

Pitching will continue to be a point of emphasis for Devils Lake.

A high-action 11-10 victory against Fargo Davies on May 10 would not explain what transpired. After all, the Firebirds capitalized on a slew of errors and scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to briefly take a convincing 11-7 lead, and while the Eagles came back to score three runs in the top of the seventh, the Firebirds held on to collect their first win of the season. 

For a team emphasizing the long-term process instead of the short-term gains, the win could not have been more significant for the program’s development. Specifically, this means working on the simplicities of staying in the zone and putting the ball in play. In terms of pitching, the Firebirds held an opponent to less than 12 runs in a game. It might not be a world-breaking accomplishment, but it is certainly a start. 

“We are taking our pitching one inning at a time and learning from each batter,” Devils Lake Softball head coach Courtney Loegering said. “The girls have made major improvements on speed, specific pitches, and overall form, but there is always room for improvement.” 

Dakota Prairie: 

The x-factor: continue to give the youth their due 

Dakota Prairie’s roster of 24 players only has four seniors. 16 of the team’s 24 players are ninth, eighth or seventh graders. But that hasn’t stopped the team, according to head coach Benjamin Morris. If anything, it has encouraged them. For the Knights, leaning on this youth – with senior guidance as a beacon – will continue to be the message as the season progresses. 

While it might seem like a relatively straightforward x-factor, that is because it is one. 

“This year, it’s all in keeping development,” Morris said before the season. “We were really young last year. 11 of my 16 girls were seventh graders, and it is kind of the same way this year. I have about 30 girls coming out, so double the numbers. But [we are] still really young, so I just want to keep building the confidence [and] keep coming through and end the season on a good note like we did last year.” 

Langdon/Edmore/Munich: 

The x-factor: Keep it mellow 

After picking up their first two wins in program history, the Cardinals are reeling in the accomplishment but not over-emphasizing it. With more games to play, Langdon/Edmore/Munich head coach Traci Murphy has made it apparent that teamwork is still a point of emphasis. If so, more wins will follow. 

The Langdon/Edmore/Munich Cardinals' emphasis on putting the ball in play illustrated itself on May 7 against Wilton-Wing and Tioga.

“We have really been aggressive on the bases, and we are starting to understand the pitching more,” Murphy said. “And our pitchers are starting to relax more on the mound, and we are getting some good hits at times, and the girls are starting to know to play with each other now.” 

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell  phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.