May 29—With a runner at second and only a one-run advantage, Makenna Nold knew she had to make every single pitch count.
On her 54th pitch of the Jamestown High School softball team's state qualifier against Minot, the sophomore let go a ball that flew right into Aynzlee Mosser's strike zone and into the open glove of Jenna Fischer.
The senior shortstop is probably kicking herself for not even taking a swing.
"There was a lot of relief coming out of the dugout," JHS head coach Mike Soulis said of collecting the final out in the bottom of the seventh. "It was something that we knew we could do. We played three really good games this weekend and this just kind of topped it off. It was the finish of a good tournament. We were getting compliments from other coaches and we know that we are definitely deserving of being at (State).
"Getting that last out was a very satisfying moment for 14 girls and three coaches."
With the 3-2 win over the Majettes, Jamestown has punched its ticket to the 2022 Class A State Softball Tournament June 2-4 at Jamestown's Trapper Field. The Blue Jays will be the No. 3 seed out of the West Region. Thursday's quarterfinal matches are still to be determined as of May 28.
Getting to the state tournament was not always a guarantee for the fifth-seeded Jays. The team had to manage a come-from-behind effort, in the WDA quarterfinals against Bismarck Legacy. In the opening two frames, Legacy led the Blue Jays 5-0 before a huge push in the sixth and seventh to win it 12-8.
In the semifinals, Jamestown fell to Dickinson 1-0, pinning the team against the second-seeded Majettes in the loser-out game. The Jays dropped a pair to Minot in the WDA regular-season finale.
"The last time we played Minot, I thought we let two get away from us," Soulis said. "You can go two ways on something like that — you can get mad about it or you can learn from it."
Soulis said the Jays have chosen the latter option.
After falling to Minot in the final WDA tilt of the season, Jamestown went to West Fargo and dispatched the Packers 10-8, 10-3. Soulis said that the non-conference game was a turning point for the Jays and entering the WDA tournament, they were firing on all cylinders.
The winning formula was pretty simple — strong pitching, clean fielding and putting the ball in play.
Jamestown and Minot were scoreless until the fourth inning when both Katie Trumbauer and Jada Walter drove in runs on RBI doubles. Trumbauer plated Nold and then Walter drove in Trumbauer to put the Jays ahead 2-0. Minot responded by scoring once in the bottom of the fourth.
In the fifth, Fischer reached base on a fielder's choice and a Minot error allowed Jamestown to put runners on second and third with two down. Nold's RBI single put her team up by two again, scoring courtesy runner, Benet Fronk.
The Majettes would once again answer with a solo homer to cut the Jays' lead back to one.
After the homer, Nold took the circle and shut the door for Jamestown, retiring seven at the plate and getting the save in relief.
"Katie (Falk) has always started our first game of every doubleheader — no reason why — but Makenna is definitely equivalent of (Katie). We told the girls before the game that we were going to use them both we just didn't know when.
"We brought in Katie's leadership to get us started and then in the fifth inning we brought in Makenna and she showed everybody what she can do and got us out of a bit of an inning and kept the lead for us, They both did an awesome job and they both pitched very well this weekend."
Falk earned the win, going four innings and allowing five hits, and striking out one. Jamestown got the final out in the seventh with the tying run standing on second for Minot.
A sigh of relief filled Soulis' lungs when the umpire called the final strike and he knew for sure that his team was going home for the grand finale.
"I just said, girls, you just have to get (to State) because that environment that it is going to be with us playing and your family and friends and Jamestown coming out to support us is going to be unbelievable and you are going to remember that," Soulis said. "That was kind of in our mindset and I know that it is not going to disappoint when we step onto the field on Thursday.
"These girls are awesome. Softball is their thing. They are teachable, they are coachable and I am super proud of these girls. We didn't want it to end this weekend and we are going to get the chance to play in Jamestown and hope that fans come out to support and watch some great softball next weekend."
Jamestown 3, Minot 2
JHS 000 210 0 — 3 6 3
MIN 000 110 X — 2 3 2
JHS: Katie Falk, Nold (5); MIN: Kirsten Galloway. W — Falk; L — Galloway
Highlights: JHS — Falk (4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 K, 2 BB), Katie Trumbauer 1-3, 2B, RBI; Jada Walter 1-2, 2B, RBI.
MIN — Isabelle Anderson 1-3, RBI, HR, Reese Rice 1-3.