Despite frustrations, North Star Bearcats conclude state tournament with lessons learned

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

FARGO – It would be the understatement of the spring to suggest that the 2022 high school baseball season was one without its fair share of challenges. 

Of course, “spring” should be labeled with an asterisk. After all, snow, sleet, hail and everything else under the sun (or clouds, in this case) prevented many a team from taking to the field regularly. 

The North Star Bearcats might have been the textbook definition of such a theme. 

The North Star Bearcats concluded their 2022 NDHSAA Class B State Tournament run with a 4-0 loss to (#5) Beulah on June 4.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Bearcats, even if they concluded their 2022 campaign with a 4-0 shutout defeat at the hands of the (#5) Beulah Miners on June 4 to conclude their 2022 NDHSAA Class B Baseball State Tournament involvement. However, their defeat at the hands of the Miners at Newman Outdoor Field additionally signified the end of their season. 

North Star’s 2022 season was one of patience and growth from start to finish. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, any eagerness to play a game or two on their all-dirt infield seemed thwarted by another rain or snow storm. 

Nevertheless, the Bearcats pushed through. And push through North Star did. Whether it be from the spotless 5-0 regular-season record to their 3-0 stretch during region tournament play, the Bearcats waded through adversity and found themselves with an opportunity to make noise during the state tournament. 

While the Bearcats could not come away with a win during the tournament, there were still positive takeaways. 

“Up and down,” North Star head coach Jesse Vote said after the game. “It was a roller coaster ride. Not going to say we didn’t do anything well because we did some things well. I think the whole…the realm of things is keeping our focus and staying in the moment. Making that play when it comes to you. Making the easy plays. Hopefully, you make a hard one along the way. We put the bat on the ball quite a bit, and we can’t take that away from ourselves. We have to find a way to build off of that.” 

Of course, the losing stretch didn’t lead to a lack of frustration on North Star’s end. Those frustrations reached a climax during their game against the Miners. 

After the Saturday afternoon contest, a lengthy talk with the team outside of the dugout helped emphasize when frustration takes a step too far. 

“First thing, it was disappointing, just our actions,” Vote said. “We kind of lost our heads, throwing some helmets and stuff like that, and [it] is just not going to happen on our clock. So, just making sure we have our heads under control, those sorts of adjustments.” 

While the Bearcats might have exemplified their collective youth at the beginning of the season, they overcame the obstacle and continued to win. However, this trait can only be said so many times, even when the going is good. 

North Star head coach Jesse Vote (left) believes his team must look beyond youth and instead look toward lessons they learned during their three-game losing streak in the state tournament.

When the going is on the other end of the spectrum – especially at the end of the season in a tournament setting – it is time for the team in question to not look to excuses. 

To Vote, this includes his team’s youth. 

“The youth excuse needs to go out the window,” Vote said. “We are all going to be older now, juniors and a senior or whatever. But we need to…when things are going rough, we have to band together. Our pitchers threw very well for most of the tournament, and we had probably over 20 errors combined, and that isn’t going to win you any baseball games.” 

While their weekend in Fargo might not have gone as well as they would have liked, the Bearcats collectively learned to develop and work together as a nucleus, according to Vote. 

Whether from overcoming weather lulls off of the baseball field to working through miscues on it, the Bearcats now have more experience than they had beforehand. From their experience gained, Vote believes his team will only improve during the ensuing months and seasons. 

In due time, this could become an understatement in itself. And perhaps the sun will shine brighter for the team under the postseason spotlight as a result. 

“I’d like to say that we grew,” Vote said. “Experience, obviously, and that was kind of the…that was what this year is. When you kind of rebuild yourself, it is all valuable experience…Your high school season is over, but we have two games next week. We just jump right into things, and things switch up a little bit. You gain a couple [of] senior leaders from last year, and hopefully, those two guys can rally the troops here [and] pick them up after three tough weekend games. You just have to keep pushing through.” 

Game breakdown: 

NSB: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0: 0 4 3 

BEU: 0 0 0 3 0 1 x: 4 8 1 

Standout stats: 

- North Star: 

    Pitching: 

    - Karsen Simon: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 6 K, 3 BB, 56 P 

    - Dane Hagler: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 K, 2 BB, 57 P 

    Hitting: 

    - Garrett Westlind: 2-3 

- Beulah: 

    Pitching: 

    - Trey Brandt: CGSO, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 K, 1 BB, 90 P 

    Hitting: 

    - Trapper Skalsky: 2-3, 1 BB 

    - Seth Weigum: 1-3, 2 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.