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Published May 23 2012

Otters look to draw from last year's state tourney experience

Fergus Falls, Minn.

Liken it to being at the front door of a raging party.

You can hear the music pulsating through the building.

Yet as you try to get in the door, there’s something or someone standing in front of it.

Until last year, that was the Fergus Falls softball team.

“Teams might be chasing us a little, but there are some teams we are chasing too,” said Otters coach Renee Erickson. “But it is a different feeling.”

Fergus Falls (12-7) got over the hump last season, reaching its first-ever Minnesota state softball tournament.

The hope is to return to this year’s tournament and rebound from last year’s winless state performance.

But there’s another team that would like the same thing.

That’s Hawley, and both teams play today at 4 p.m. in Frazee.

Hawley (12-3) reached state last season by winning the Class 1A, Section 8 crown.

But with both teams playing in Class 2A, Section 8 this year, only one of them is going to state.

“They’ve been pretty good,” said Fergus Falls first baseman Amber Blondeau. “They can hit off us and we just have to play good defense. But we can also hit off them too.”

Fergus Falls and Hawley split the season series, with Hawley grabbing the most recent win.

Erickson said she thought both teams were even. It’s just that errors were the difference the last time they played.

But as her team has learned, it’s all about the breaks this time of year.

Fergus Falls had lost three straight playoff series to Ottertail Central coming into last postseason.

Then, “it” happened, with Fergus Falls finally getting past Ottertail Central and reaching state.

“I think everyone is on a high from last year, and we all want to go back,” said Otters senior Sydney Schultz. “Knowing we can do better is also another reason.”

If Fergus Falls can return to state, it would be a continuation of what was started last year.

It would also be a nice way to end what’s been a strong season for girls athletics at the school.

Softball players Blondeau, Schultz and Mariah Monke were members of the school’s volleyball and/or basketball teams that reached the state tournament this year.

“We know what to expect for this year,” Schultz said.

“We were a better team then and it is the same for this year. When we were at state last year, we didn’t do as well as we would have liked. But if we get back, we want to do better.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found

at slightlychilled.areavoices.com