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Eric Peterson, Published May 10 2013

Bison softball keeps title hopes alive

FARGO – In game that had 11 runs and 24 hits, a defensive play saved North Dakota State.

Freshman center fielder Sam Peterson made a diving catch in the sixth inning that stymied a potential Missouri-Kansas City rally Friday at the Ellig Sports Complex.

That defensive gem, which started a double play, helped lift the Bison to a 6-5 victory in loser-out play at the Summit League softball tournament.

“That was awesome,” said NDSU coach Darren Mueller.

“I don’t actually remember the catch,” Peterson said. “I remember looking down at my glove and seeing the ball in it.”

No. 1 seed NDSU (32-15) plays No. 2 seed Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne at 1 p.m. for the tournament title. The Bison have to beat IPFW twice to earn their fifth consecutive league tournament championship.

“It’s going to be tough,” Mueller said. “We have to grind it out and play each inning at a time.”

The Bison led 6-5 to in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Kangaroos. UMKC designated player Katie Kelley came to the plate with runners on first and second base and one out.

Kelley laced a line drive into left-center field that appeared headed toward the gap. Peterson made a spectacular diving catch and quickly got back to her feet. She then fired the ball to second base to double off the base runner, ending the inning and preserving the 1-run lead.

“That was key because if that gets by her they are probably up by a run at least and that could be the ballgame,” Mueller said.

After the catch, Peterson celebrated the play with a handful of teammates before she made it back to the bench. They hugged Peterson as she got to the infield.

“Everyone just running out there and congratulating me made me feel great, but we had to finish,” Peterson said.

NDSU trailed 3-1 through four innings, but rallied in the fifth.

The Bison scored five runs in the top of the fifth inning to forge into the lead for good. Jenina Ortega sparked the rally with a two-run single. Logan Moreland capped the inning, driving in a run on an infield fly. Moreland was ruled out, but Cheyenne Garcia scored from third base when the wind blew the pop up away from a UMKC defender near first base.

Wind gusts of more than 40 miles per hour made any ball hit in the air tough for defenders to field cleanly.

“Nothing comes easy,” Peterson said. “It was a grind, but we weren’t going to make excuses for the wind or the dirt in our eyes or anything because we practice on this every day.”

NDSU 010 050 0– 6 12 2

UMKC 300 020 0– 5 12 1

Johnson, Menke (1), Johnson (6) and Reina. Friese and Friloux. W–Menke (9-7). L–Friese (13-14). S–Johnson (2). HR–UMKC, Maples (5).

IPFW 2, NDSU 0

The wind was blowing in and the pitchers from NDSU and Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne were throwing smoke. Lighting any kind of offensive fire looked near impossible in the winner’s bracket game earlier Friday afternoon.

It may have been Bison vs. Mastodons, but in all reality it was a matchup between right-handed Whitney Johnson vs. left-handed Miranda Kramer. All it took was IPFW’s only hit of the game, a two-run double by Hillary Kartman in the top of the seventh.

“Whitney threw a great game and Kramer threw a good game,” Mueller said.

Both pitchers came in with 22-7 records and both were on task. Johnson finished with 11 strikeouts – the 36th time in her career she’s had double figures in that department.

NDSU didn’t get a threat going until the fifth inning when Alyssa Reina led off with a single and stole second. But Kramer got out of it with a fly ball, a strikeout and a ground out leaving Reina at second.

IPFW 000 000 2– 2 1 0

NDSU 000 000 0– 0 3 1

IPFW: Kramer and Pugh. NDSU: Johnson and Ortega. W–Kramer (23-7) L–Johnson (22-8).


Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com