A Parker Simon no-hitter provides North Star with another consistent pitching option

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

CANDO – On paper, the undefeated North Star Bearcats were the top-overall seed once they took the mound to open the Region V Baseball Tournament Monday afternoon. 

Games, however, are not played on spreadsheets. Instead, they are played on the diamond. In this case, the all-dirt infield in Cando. While hosting the tournament brought its fair share of perks, outside obstacles still reared their respective heads at the undefeated Bearcats when they took on Harvey/Wells County on May 23.

Weather played a role, to start. At best, it was a mild sprinkle. At worst, it was a downright downpour. And so, gripping the ball, hitting the ball and fielding the ball all looked to be marquee adjustments each team needed to make, and fast.

North Star's Parker Simon pitched a five-inning no-hitter against Harvey/Wells County on May 23.

However, North Star’s more intriguing factor came on the pitching side. Although the Bearcats primarily relied on Dane Hagler and Zachary Jorde to toe the rubber – both pitchers accounted for four of North Star’s five starts heading into the tournament – they instead looked to rely on sophomore Parker Simon. 

Younger teams might have faltered at the new task, let alone deal with it on top of Mother Nature dropping a weather cell. 

Not North Star, though. 

The Bearcats stuck to their bread-and-butter pitching formula with a newer face on the mound. The formula? Stay composed and trust those behind you. And it worked almost to perfection. Literally. After all, the Bearcats no-hit the Hornets in what amounted to a 10-0 victory in five innings. Simon tallied 11 strikeouts. 

In addition to those behind him, the sophomore in Simon looked to take it one game at a time. 

“We needed to get on the sticks, stay hot on the sticks and just make plays in the field for our boys because I know they all [have] my back today, and I’ll have their back tomorrow for whoever is on the bump, so it’s just a team game,” Simon said after the game. “Trying to get to the next game [and] take it a game at a time.” 

After working around a walk to open the first inning, Simon found more composure as he marched into the second, third and fourth inning. During the second inning, Simon struck out the side and followed up the 1-2-3 affair with three more strikeouts in the third. Simon’s final two innings of the game saw the right-hander collect four strikeouts. 

Not a poor showing for a pitcher who didn’t log much time on the mound heading into the game. 

“We were just hoping to get some good innings out of Parker [Simon],” North Star head coach Jesse Vote said after the game. “I don’t think he has…he might have thrown one or two innings on the year, so he hasn’t gotten to throw a complete game, let alone a game in itself, but we just told him, just throw strikes. We’ll rely on our defense behind you. Harvey [Wells County] is young. They are up-and-coming. They have a lot of youth and so, probably a lot of inexperience as well. So, we have to take advantage of that, and I thought we did a very good job.” 

Although weather proved to be an obstacle, Simon trusted his grip and velocity en route to the team’s second no-hitter in as many games against the Hornets. North Star no-hit the Hornets in five innings on May 5. 

“He [Simon] ran into a couple [of] snags here and there, but he was able just to…once he got into the flow of things and he found it, he was able to keep it there [and] put it on repeat,” Vote said. “He throws really hard. It’s just keeping his control under control, I guess. But he had command most of the game, and he built some confidence, and he finished strong.” 

Although North Star will continue to rely on their 1-2 starting pitching tandem in Dane Hagler and Zachary Jorde, Parker Simon's performance against Harvey/Wells County helped establish an additional option behind the pair.

“Just throw strikes,” Simon said. “Strikes, and then [the] field has my back all the time, so I know that.” 

On the offensive side of the ball, the Bearcats scored three+ runs in the second, third and fourth inning (three, three and four, respectively). Three separate batters compiled two hits or more (Simon, Jack Ahlberg and Chas Bisbee). North Star has now scored 20 runs against the Hornets in 10 total innings. 

Even still, the game revolved back to Simon, who stayed steady and, in turn, showed the Bearcats they could rely on yet another starter to help them make significant postseason noise.

While the Bearcats might have had a few questions heading into the game, they departed the rain-soaked infield with another win and, more importantly, established another option they can go to on the mound. 

Nothing a spreadseet can see. 

Game breakdown: 

HWC: 0 0 0 0 0: 0 0 5 

NSB: 0 3 3 4 x: 10 9 0 

Standout stats: 

- North Star: 

    Pitching: 

    - Parker Simon: W, CGSO, 5.0 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 H, 2 BB, 11 K, 72 P 

    Hitting: 

    - Parker Simon: 2-2 (1 2B), 2 R, 2 RBI 

    - Jack Ahlberg: 2-3, 3 R

    - Chas Bisbee: 2-2, 3 RBI 

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.