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Chris Bieri, Published June 05 2010

ND state softball: Johnson leads West Fargo to title game

MINOT, N.D. – Kacie Johnson has no shortage of big-game experience.

The senior ace for the West Fargo fastpitch softball team added one more key win to her resume on Friday.

Johnson twirled a no-hitter as the defending state champion Packers moved into the championship game with a 4-0 win over Minot Ryan at the North Dakota state girls softball tournament.

Johnson has been a key cog in the Packers softball dynasty the last few years.

“Two years ago she won two big games for us (at state),” Packers head coach Pat Johnson said. “Last year she threw every game. This year she’s our main pitcher”

Johnson walked just three batters and struck out nine.

Johnson was on the mound last season when the Packers topped Fargo North in the inaugural sanctioned state tourney.

“I pitched in one title game now, but I didn’t pitch my best,” Kacie Johnson said. “You want to play your best at state so that’s what I’ve been working toward this season.”

The Packers played error-free ball behind Johnson.

“We expect her to throw strikes and give us a chance and that’s what she did,” Pat Johnson said. “We’ve got a solid defense behind her so as long as we field the ball and she throws strikes, I think we’ve got a chance. That’s key for them too, we just got a few more hits.”

The Packers never established a big rally. They scored single runs in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings.

“You want to score first and put some pressure on because then they have to press, especially as the innings go on,” Pat Johnson said. “It’s always nice to get that and we added a couple more so that’s always good too.”

The Packers were the only team to complete a game Thursday in the first round. The rest of the games were rained out as the Lions moved into the semis with a 10-0 win over Fargo South earlier Friday.

“I was definitely excited that we got our game in (Thursday),” Kacie Johnson said. “I could cool down and I wouldn’t have to pitch two games in a row. I didn’t want to do that. The whole team was really at ease that we got a whole day off.”

Lions starting pitcher Katie Backes allowed just five hits. One of those hits was a fifth-inning home run by WF’s Danielle Nelson, which bounced off Ryan left fielder Maci Severson’s glove and over the fence.

Ryan head coach Fred Mueller said a team would need a complete effort to knock off the Packers.

“We figured out where Mother Nature lives, it’s West Fargo,” Mueller said. “She got a whole day to rest and we had to throw (Friday). Katie did a heck of a job for us, she came out and battled and battled. We had to get more runs and hits. I’ll give them all the credit in the world. Kacie Johnson is a heck of a pitcher and they have a heck of a team. You have to play errorless ball and perfect ball to beat a team like that. We almost did. A few breaks here and there.”

Mueller said his team needs to bounce back for today’s third-place game against Bismarck.

“We just have to get our heads up,” Mueller said. “You need to have a short memory. We can’t worry about what happened. We have to come back and represent Minot and represent the west and hopefully finish third and come out great guns (today).”

MR 000 000 0– 0 0 1

WF 110 110 x– 4 5 0

W–Johnson. L–Backes. HR–WF, Nelson.