Stage set for Division A state tournament at Sanford Softball Complex

May 29—DICKINSON — It all comes down to this ...

Dickinson High School and the community will play host to the North Dakota Class A State Softball Tournament at Sanford Softball Complex on Bravera Field this weekend, with the hosts capping off the night in the late game versus East-Region #4 team West Fargo Sheyenne. The tournament throws out the first pitch at 11 a.m. — with what is expected to be a capacity crowd — while the North Dakota Class A State Baseball Tournament is proceeding just down the road at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark on the south side of town and begins at 11:30 a.m.

For the ladies, the quarterfinal round will feature East Region #1 Fargo North against Western Dakota Association #4 Bismarck High, with Fargo North having earned their status via a narrow, 4-3 win over West Fargo for the eastern title. The Spartans come into the state tourney as the unlikeliest of top-seeds, having come into the east tournament ranked fourth and upending #5 Devil's Lake, 5-4, top-seeded Grand Forks Red River, 10-7, and second-seed West Fargo High for the east victory. The Demons come to town after nipping Jamestown, 11-10, and falling in the semifinals to Minot, 16-6 before defeating Jamestown, 16-8, in the state-qualifier.

DHS's Midgets come into the big-show with their reputation firmly intact as the defending 2023 Class A State Champions and tore a path through the WDA with an 8-2 quarterfinal win over #7 Williston in the quarterfinals, which was followed by a run-rule thumping of number-three Mandan at 11-1 and a final win over last-year's state-finalist — and 2024 WDA-top-seed — Minot, 6-1.

The Midgets are led by standout, multi-sport athlete and right-handed hurler Ava Jahner, who has fanned 145 opposing batters during the current 2024 calendar while giving up only 15 earned-runs on the season in 24 appearances. Her remarkable 1.05 ERA is further solidified by a 1.05 WHIP and she has stranded an unbelievable 106 opposing runners-on-base while holding all batters to a measly .159 average at the plate. But she also carries a stunning .454 average at the dish, herself, and has helped her own cause to the tune of a whopping 1.275 OPS, 38 RBI and 43 runs, while surrendering only 5 Ks to opposing pitchers and roping 14 doubles and 3 homers — plus the theft of 13 bags — while she was at it.

The Midgets are certainly a young team and have plenty of firepower to back Jahner up, with sophomore standout Kyndall Peterson recording a massive .465 average and an eye-watering 1.518 OPS that goes along with a Ruthian .980 slugging average. Her 14 dingers lead the team by almost a factor of four and she carries a team-high in RBI at 53 and is tied for the most runs at 44 with eighth-grade phenom Gabby Sobolik and speedy centerfielder Jenna Decker. Peterson also comes into the final-series with 11 appearances in the circle where she registered 34 Ks.

The firepower up-and-down the DHS batting order also includes the aforementioned Sobolik, who has peeled apart opposing pitchers with a precocious .414 average and a thundering 1.299 OPS with 5 long-balls and 23 RBI to go along with the 44 runs and only 11 strikeouts. She also is a terror on the basepaths with 12 stolen-bases on her stat-sheet.

Meanwhile, Decker is ripping along at a scary, team-high .484 clip at the plate with a 1.213 OPS and a .699 slugging-percentage — when she needs it — and 26 RBI to add to the 44 runs with 8 doubles and single-digit strikeouts at 9. The quintessential leadoff-hitter has tormented opposing pitchers with a team-high 25 stolen bases and a 100% steal-percentage to add to the threat.

It can easily be said, "That's not all," with Dickinson High, as backstop Mackenna Medina is batting .457 with 11 two-baggers and 39 RBI, Morgan Koffler comes in just behind her at .453 at the plate with 10 doubles and 42 RBI while sophomore shortstop Myah Merry — who also splits time at catcher for DHS — touts a .405 average with 30 RBI and 35 runs and Braelynn Farnsworth chimes in with 11 doubles and 25 RBI to add with a .366 average and 33 runs.

West Fargo Sheyenne defeated Fargo Shanley, 9-1 in the quarterfinals before being edged out by West Fargo, 8-6, and earned a state-qualifier win over Fargo Davies, 2-1.

Regardless, the Midgets have an arsenal's-worth of weapons at their disposal as the postseason progresses and they will begin play 30 minutes after West Fargo (E2) faces Mandan's Braves (W3) — who are making their first state-tournament appearance in the school's history — with that game starting at 4 p.m.

As the bottom-half of the bracket is in mind, the Braves earned their inaugural state-tournament berth through WDA wins over sixth-seeded Bismarck Legacy, 13-12 in the quarterfinals, and while the 11-1 loss to Dickinson created the opportunity for the slim, 4-3 win in the state-qualifiers over Jamestown, their regular season record of 15-9 (14-6 in WDA) shows they deserved to advance further into the postseason. Their next task will be versus east #2 West Fargo, who finished the season with a 14-5 record and come into the state-finals via victories over Valley City, 10-6 in the quarters, and a semifinal win over West Fargo Sheyenne at 8-6 before their 4-3 loss to cross-town rivals Fargo North.

The Magicians — who defeated Bismarck Century, 10-3, and Bismarck High, 16-6, before losing to the Midgets — will square off against Grand Forks Red River, with the Magicians coming into Thursday, May 30 as the WDA #2 team and the Roughriders serving as the east's number-three seed after an up-and-down postseason, thus-far. GFRR came into the postseason at the top of the East Region with a 14-3-1 record overall and a perfect 9-0 in the EDA, but while they topped #8 Fargo Davies, 8-0, in the quarterfinals, Fargo North tipped them, 10-7 in the semis and that forced a state-qualifier the Roughriders took in a resounding 12-2 victory over Valley City. The Minot/GFRR game gets underway 30 minutes after the Fargo North-Bismarck High game that starts the tourney at 11 a.m.

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