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Eric Peterson, Published May 31 2009

ND state softball: West Fargo extends its championship streak to 12

West Fargo did something for a 12th consecutive time Saturday, yet it still accomplished a first.

The Packers scored two sixth-inning runs to earn a 7-6 victory against Fargo North at Elmwood Park to win the first North Dakota High School Activities Association state softball championship.

“I think it validates the sport and it validates what we’ve been doing for the last 16 years,” said West Fargo coach Pat Johnson, in his 16th season. “Not just for us, but for the North program and the South program, the ones that helped start this, and for everyone.”

West Fargo (22-5) had won 11 previous state crowns when softball was a club sport. Now, the Packers have won 12 in a row, including the state’s first sanctioned championship.

“Now we get our picture on the wall in the school and we get our names on the signs, it’s just exciting to get noticed as a school sport,” said West Fargo senior Jessica Woodbury, who played varsity softball in New Ulm, Minn., the previous three seasons.

Johnson was named coach of the year. West Fargo shortstop Aryelle Jones (who has been on four state title teams) was named senior athlete of the year.

“The sanctioning is more of a pride thing. Everyone gets to know about it now … banners in the school,” Jones said. “But a state championship is a state championship.”

North (19-8) led 2-0, 2-1 and 4-2, but the Packers scored five runs in their final two at-bats to rally for the state crown.

“We played well enough to win, we just didn’t get it done,” said North coach Kevin Hanson, who has coached in the program the last 10 seasons, the last four as head coach. “We never quit.”

Freshman pinch hitter Harle Andel sparked the Packers’ two-run sixth inning, ripping a leadoff double to the fence in center field. Andel later scored the go-ahead run after Woodbury dumped a bloop single just over shortstop.

“She really got us fired up with that hit. Harle does a good job of coming in there and hitting the ball hard and I’m really proud of her for that,” Woodbury said.

Woodbury scored what proved to be the winning run, racing home from third base after Kacie Johnson reached on an infield error. That staked the Packers to a 7-5 lead.

North cut the Packers lead to 7-6 in the seventh inning and Spartans junior Jordan Brenneman reached second base with two outs. North junior Tana Teschendorf, who was 1-for-4 with an RBI, grounded out to Woodbury at second base for the game’s final out.

“We had our best hitter up there and that’s all you can ask for in a game like this,” Hanson said. “It just wasn’t our time.”

Brenneman went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, a triple, a run and a walk to pace the Spartans.

Woodbury ended 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

“We got a little rattled at the front and the end of the game, but it ended all right,” Pat Johnson said. “It was a big relief when it was over.”

North 200 021 1—6 7 4

West Fargo 010 132 x—7 9 3

Kaspari and Lagodinski. Johnson and Klug. W—Johnson. L—Kaspari.

Fargo Shanley 12, Grand Forks Red River 1 (6 innings)

Tristan Webber went 4-for-4 with two triples and two RBIs to spark the Deacons to victory in the third-place game.

Haley Vangerud, Amber Kilen, Ashley Peterson and Blair Smart each added two hits for Shaney, which finished with a 20-5 record.

“The girls came out hitting well,” Shanley coach Ryan Langlie said. “The one advantage of the single elimination (tournament) is you can end your season on a win and that’s especially nice for the seniors.”

Shanley 430 302 —12 16 1

Red River 000 100 —1 5 2

Conant and Vangerud. Koopman and Carlson. W—Conant. L—Koopman. HR—RR, Carroll.

Highlights: Shanley, Tristan Webber 4-for-4 with two triples and two RBIs. Haley Vangerud, Amber Kilen, Ashley Peterson and Blair Smart had two hits. RR, Janelle Carroll 2-for-3 with and inside the park home run.

Minot 5, Minot Ryan 3

Paige Ronnie went 3-for-4 and scored runs as Minot took fifth place.

Beth Jundt paced Ryan, going 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI.

Minot 004 000 1—5 6 1

Ryan 200 010 0—3 7 4

Nagel and Fonder. Backes and Abel. W—Nagel. L—Backes.

Highlights: Minot, Paige Ronnie 3-for-4 with two runs. Ryan, Beth Jundt 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI.

Devils Lake 4, Fargo South 3

Kayla Trottier cracked an RBI single in the sixth inning to lead the Firebirds to a seventh-place finish.

South catcher Amanda Dukart went 2-for-4 and scored a run.

South 300 000 0—3 4 1

Devils Lake 003 001 x—4 4 4

Pahl and Dukart. Olson and Brustad. W—Olson. L—Pahl.

Highlights: FS, Amanda Dukart 2-for-4 with a run. DL, Kayla Trottier 1-for-3 with game-winning RBI single in the sixth inning.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com