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Chris Bieri, Published June 04 2010

West Fargo cruises to victory in opener of ND state softball

MINOT, N.D. – The rain didn’t let up for most of opening game of the North Dakota state girls fastpitch tournament.

Neither did West Fargo.

The defending state champion cruised past Devils Lake 16-1 in five innings in the opening round of the tournament Thursday at South Hill Complex.

The rain that fell throughout the Packers/Firebirds game eventually washed away the rest of the first day’s play.

First-round action will resume today at 9 a.m. with semifinals scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

It didn’t take long for the Packers to take command in their bid for a second straight sanctioned title and a 13th overall.

West Fargo (18-1) pounced on the Firebirds (9-11) for eight runs in the first inning, sending 13 batters to the plate.

Packers head coach Pat Johnson said getting off to a fast start was imperative.

“You have to get the momentum going some time and it’s nice that we came out right away in the first inning and got on there and we didn’t let up,” Johnson said. “Especially in these type of conditions, you never know (what would have happened) if we would have stopped the game. It was really important to come out hard and fast and get your momentum going.”

Field conditions deteriorated as the game progressed, and by the fourth inning the Packers started making substitutions to prevent injuries to their top players.

“At the end there we were taking some starters out,” Johnson said. “The bases were really slippery. That was probably, out of all of it, running on the bases and hitting the bases, was probably the most dangerous. You hit that base and round it, it was slick.”

The Packers were solid all around on Thursday, playing error-free baseball. West Fargo didn’t allow a hit, with Devils Lake scoring its run in the fourth inning on a hit batter, a steal and a pair of wild pitches. West Fargo showed good patience at the plate, drawing 11 walks.

“I think on the whole we started out real well,” Johnson said. “The problem we had was we let the weather get to us at the end and we started to coast. You just don’t want to coast at this time of year, because you never know if you can get out of that coast mode. You just want to keep going hard all the time.”

West Fargo’s Kacie Johnson earned the win, while Alexis Fee was tagged with the loss for the Firebirds.

The West Fargo offense was led by Madison Anderson 3-for-3 and two runs scored. Johnson also went 2-for-3 with a run. Allison Klug scored two runs, while Carissa Becher and Brook Rheault each scored three runs for the Packers.

DL 000 10 – 1 0 2

WF 853 0x –16 12 1

Fee and Erstad. Johnson, Woodbury (5) and Klug. W–Johnson (17-1). L–Fee.