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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 01 2013

Sweet 16th state softball title for West Fargo

WEST FARGO – Sixteen strikeouts equaled 16 straight titles for West Fargo.

That was the number Packers pitcher Brittany Rheault was stuck on Minot Ryan on Saturday night in another beauty of a North Dakota Class A state softball championship game between the two teams. The 1-0 victory at Elmwood Park was the same score West Fargo won by last year.

“I think a state championship game is a given with all the adrenalin,” said Rheault, when asked if she brought something extra to the ballpark. “The key to this game was hitting my spots.”

Rheault was money all night. Not only was she dominant on the mound, but she also scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a single by senior Jordyn Johnson.

There were theatrics everywhere, especially in the sixth.

“Definitely crazy,” Rheault said.

With one out, her double to the left-center gap created a contentious play at the plate. The relay throw nailed courtesy runner Morgan McDougall, but West Fargo head coach Pat Johnson argued Ryan catcher Maddie Lipp blocked the plate before the ball got there.

“Part of it is two-fold,” Johnson said, in a message to his team. “I’m into it. I need you to be into it.”

Jordyn Johnson was into it. Her single easily scored Rheault from third base, a hit that was easily the biggest of her life.

“She struggled, but she got the right hit at the right time,” Pat Johnson said.

It was one of five Packers hits against the sophomore Stewart, who was every bit as effective as Rheault.

“She’s the best pitcher we’ve faced all year,” Ryan head coach Julie Stewart said of Rheault.

Rheault was on her game early, striking out eight of nine in one stretch in the first three innings, getting several Lions to chase high fastballs.

The Packers, meanwhile, loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the third on two walks and Ashley Sather’s single. Moreover, West Fargo had the middle of its order up, but pitcher Hannah Stewart got cleanup hitter Michaela Liebl on a short fly to left and Rheault on a pop fly to third base to end the inning.

“They earned the win,” coach Stewart said. “We competed, we got out of jams, and sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want it to go.”

It did for West Fargo, which as part of the championship team photo had senior Lexi Lennon and her jersey No. 16 in the front row.

It was a night of 16s.

MR 000 000 0– 0 1 0

WF 000 001 x– 1 5 0

Stewart and Lipp. Rheault and Liebl. W—Rheault. L-Stewart.

Third place

Dickinson 11, Bismarck Century 6

D 002 121 5–11 12 2

BC 100 300 2– 6 7 4

Butterfield, Jahner (7) and Hoffmann. Miller, Herold (6) and Holland. W–Butterfield. L–Miller.

Fifth place

Valley City 13, Fargo Davies 3

FD 012 002 – 3 2 2

VC 204 205 –13 13 2

Binde and Malmenger. Danica Diegel and Dierra Diegel. W–Diegel. L–Binde.

Seventh place

Fargo North 10, Bismarck 6

B 410 001 0– 6 8 4

FN 030 016 x–10 9 1

Wittenberg, Thompson (6) and Blair. Fischer and Mellick. W-Fischer. L–Wittenberg.

Class A all-state

Kennedy Blair, Bismarck

Haley Butterfield, Dickinson

Dierra Diegel, Valley City

Maddie Erikkson, Devils Lake

Brianna Farnsworth, Dickinson

Brianna Flynn, Bismarck Century

Mackee Hoffman, Dickinson

Courtney Johnson, Fargo North

McKenna King, GF Red River

Jesse Kongelf, Minot

Lexi Lennon, West Fargo

Maddie Lipp, Minot Ryan

Brittany Rheault, West Fargo

Sheyenne Schmidt, Minot Ryan

Keely Spiess, Fargo North

Hannah Stewart, Minot Ryan

Jolene Woodbury, West Fargo

Outstanding senior athlete: Brianna Flynn, Bismarck Century

Coach of the year: Jason Lindgren, Valley City

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia