May 8—DICKINSON — Dickinson State got to show off their newly turfed Bravera field at the brand new Sanford Sports Complex, hosting the 2023 North Star Athletic Association Championships. The double elimination tourney saw the No. 2 through No. 6 seeds battle on day one, with No. 1 seeded Bellevue Bruins taking a bye.
The No. 3 Blue Hawks started on the right foot, vanquishing No. 6 Waldorf to the loser's bracket, to close out day one. No. 2 Valley City and No. 4 Dakota State would get the best of No. 7 Mayville State and No. 5 Viterbo respectively. Though the higher seeds won all three of the games, upsets were among the outings.
"I think it's anybody's tournament," Kristen Fleury, DSU head coach, said. "Everybody starts with a zero-zero record coming in, so we just need to play one game at a time and play our game no matter who the opponent is."
Dickinson State entered the tournament on a 10-game winning streak, adding another notch to their winning column by defeating the Waldorf Warriors in a 9-4 contest. They took a 4-0 lead at the bottom of the first inning, capped by Madeline Peralta who had a 2 RBI stand up double.
The Warriors responded with two runs of their own at the top of the second and would tie it up at 4 going into the bottom of the third. Each of the scored runs were brought in by singles.
It would not take long for Dickinson State to take a definitive lead, scoring three runs at the bottom of the third. In the inning, the Blue Hawks knocked three doubles, first by Ari Martinez, as the leadoff hitter and who was sent home by Dallis Mitchell's single; and then by Peralta and Cassidy Venner who each collected an RBI off their doubles.
DSU added some insurance runs at the bottom of the sixth, Martinez having another big hit with a triple for an RBI, before being sent home herself.
Martinez held the circle for the game's entirety, allowing nine hits, one walk and four earned runs. Talking to the press after the game, she admitted to feeling nervous to start their conference tourney campaign, but did well to help her team get the win, whether it was on the rubber lane or in the batter's box. Martinez was named the NAIA player of the week just prior to the conference tournament and proved to everyone and to herself exactly why.
"It feels really good [to contribute to the win]. I am glad that we were able to come out and just swing in and our defense was working pretty hard for us and I am happy to come out and work for them," Martinez said. "I was a little bit nervous coming in, knowing that I was starting, but my team loves to talk me up and back me up and let me know that I have them behind me."
The Trojans took an early 4-0 lead against the V-Hawks, at the bottom of the first inning of the opening game. Their lead in the game would never collapse, once they claimed another four-run inning in the fourth, that included a three RBI triple from Carrington Entringer, extending to a 8-1 lead. Viterbo did not go without a fight, cutting Dakota State lead in half at the top of the fifth, but the game would end at the top of the seventh, with two V-Hawks runners left stranded. The final score was an 8-4 result.
The Comets nearly pulled off an upset over the Vikings, with both teams exemplifying strong defensive prowess. The game ended with a nail-biting 2-1 showing.
The first score came at the bottom of the fifth inning for Mayville, off of an RBI single. Valley City wouldn't respond until the bottom of the seventh, with the victory pulled from under the Comets by Alyssa DePoorter's RBI triple. A sacrifice fly would tally the game ending run with Valley city winning by way of an extra-inning walk off.
Mayville's pitcher Courtney Boll held the circle, leading the defense to four three up, three down innings and leaving 11 runners on base. She surrendered seven hits, two earned runs, but not a single walk.
On Saturday, day two of the tourney, light rain is expected — as is even more tough competition. The Bruins (1) enter the competition to face Dakota State (4) and The Blue Hawks (3) will be facing Valley City (2); and in the loser's out bracket the Warrior (6) will battle against the V-Hawks (5). Two more loser's out games will commence, which will depend on the outcome of the games prior.
"We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to be at home," Fleury said. "We had a great crowd tonight and we hope to have great crowds throughout the week and that we continue to put some runs up and score more than the other team."
Dickinson State 9, Waldorf College 4
Visitor 022 000 0 — 4 9 1
Home 403 002 X — 9 11 1
DSU: Paiva 1-3, (2)2B, 3SB; Martinez 2-4, RBI, 2B, 3B; Enriquez 1-3, RBI, SAC; Conway 1-3, SB; Mitchell 1-3, RBI; Venner 2-3, 2RBI, 2B; 3-3 Peralta 3-3, 3RBI (2)2B.
WC : Pierson 1-4, 2RBI, 2B; Hickey 1-3; Elyea 1-4, Bierly 3-3; Sheffield 2-3, RBI; Mentink 1-2, RBI.
DSU: Martinez (WP) 7IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 2K.
WC : Mentink 2.1IP, 5H, 7R, 7ER, 3BB, 1K; Dalke 3.2IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 2K.