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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 15 2010

Bison break IPFW's spell at Summit softball tournament

You would have to go back to the dark ages of North Dakota State softball to find the last time a conference team beat the Bison four straight times in one season. NDSU made sure it didn’t make another visit to the history book on Friday.

The Bison took down Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne for the first time this season, although this one had more meaning. The 4-2 victory came in the first round of The Summit League Tournament at the Ellig Sports Complex.

NDSU will play top-seeded Western Illinois in the semifinals at 10 a.m. today in a game that was originally scheduled for Friday night. The tournament was delayed several hours on Friday to allow a soggy field to dry out.

NDSU, meanwhile, already waited over a month to get another shot at IPFW. The Mastodons swept the Bison in early April on the same diamond.

“We’re a totally different team,” said NDSU third baseman Brea Konz, who drove in the winning runs.

Different – except for the fifth inning. It’s been good to the Bison all year – statistically their best with 42 runs scored.

Nicole Rivera started it with a walk and Elisa Victa reached on an infield hit. The Mastodons got the league’s best hitter, Melissa Chmielewski, to ground out, but NDSU proved it still had some pop in the lineup.

Konz broke a tie with a two-run single to left field for a 4-2 advantage.

“My teammates got on base, I got the easy part in hitting them in,” she said. “We’ve been emphasizing the fight in us the past couple of weeks.”

IPFW’s Kristina Karpun erased a 1-0 deficit taking a Whitney Johnson changeup over the left-field fence for a two-run home run in the third inning. Johnson had little trouble with the Mastodons lineup until Karpun’s hit, the first for IPFW.

Johnson got stronger from there, however, striking our four straight IFPW hitters and five of six at one point in the late innings.

In the process, Johnson became one of two pitchers in NDSU history to register over 300 strikeouts in one season. Julie Fromm was the other.

“She’s come so far,” Konz said.

NDSU 100 030 0– 4 8 1

IPFW 002 000 0– 2 4 1

Johnson and McKenzie. Cronin and Karpun. W–Johnson (24-16). L–Cronin (18-10).

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546