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Eric Peterson, Published May 29 2013

Scoreless inning streak at 63 as West Fargo enters state

West Fargo - West Fargo has two impressive streaks entering the North Dakota Class A state softball tournament.

The program’s string of 15 consecutive state titles is well documented. A lesser-known streak – the Packers haven’t allowed a run since May 10.

That is a stretch of 63 scoreless innings in a row, good for 11 successive shutouts.

“I don’t pay attention as much as a pitcher,” said junior pitcher Brittany Rheault. “I’m more focused on each batter. I don’t remember the stats.”

The statistics have been impressive for West Fargo, which enters state on a 21-game winning streak.

The Packers (22-2) play Bismarck at approximately 6:30 p.m. today in the state quarterfinals.

West Fargo has spun 17 shutouts this season with Rheault and senior Jolene Woodbury splitting the pitching duties.

“Jolene and I, we’re definitely a pair. It’s never a competition with us,” Rheault said. “We’re always there to go off of each other. She’s always my motivator, and I think that is the same for her.”

The Packers are in search of their 16th consecutive state crown this weekend at Elmwood Park.

West Fargo coach Pat Johnson, however, doesn’t like to look at the string of titles in its entirety.

“The streak that we go for is the streak of one, because it wasn’t this team last year,” Johnson said. “We have (some) different parts from last year.”

The Packers earned a 1-0 victory in eight innings against Minot Ryan in the state title game last season to keep the streak alive.

“Pat tries to keep us level-headed and just remind us that we have to work really hard for every game,” said Woodbury, the Eastern Dakota Conference senior athlete of the year. “But it sneaks in there every once in a while.”

West Fargo and Ryan are favored to meet in the title game again. Both teams are the No. 1 seeds from their respective regions.

The Packers have yet to lose to a North Dakota opponent this season. The Lions have just one loss.

But, it’s not in the West Fargo DNA to look ahead.

“Everybody has been talking about the Minot Ryan game and all this, but what we are focused on right now is (today),” Rheault said.

“We’re getting to our high point, which is right where we need to be heading for state,” Woodbury added.

The Packers have four seniors on their roster: Woodbury, third baseman Lexi Lennon, shortstop Ashley Sather and second baseman Jordyn Johnson.

West Fargo has outscored its opponents 128-0 in its past 11 games. The Packers haven’t lost since April 20, a 4-0 loss against Rice Lake (Wis.).

“With the streak, it definitely adds a little more pressure, but I think we do our best when we are under pressure,” Rheault said.

“It gives us a little more motivation to take that extra cut in practice or come early or give it our best effort when we got up to bat or throw a pitch.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com