The Minot State University softball team's home opener with Valley City State University will go down in the history books.
Not because of an extraordinary play, or because it was a blowout of epic proportions. It will be remembered as the first softball game played at Herb Parker Stadium.
In Thursday's Dakota Athletic Conference doubleheader, Minot was able to take the first game 3-2. Then, VCSU held the Beavers to four hits in a 3-1 win for the split.
The Beavers were able to play at Herb Parker Stadium because last summer new field turf was installed. The turf is plastic grass with sand and bits of rubber laid beneath the faux grass.
History was made again in game 1 when Jen Dixon hit the first ever home run at Herb Parker. For Dixon, she was just glad to get a homer during her first trip up to the plate.
"It was nice to get a home run my first conference game and first at-bat," Dixon said. "On a different field, it was a little different playing out there."
Dixon's home run was followed by another MSU jack from Tiffany Friesen in the third inning. The Beavers (14-6, DAC 1-1) scored another run in the fourth off Kyla Thiesen's successful bunt. The Vikings (11-10, DAC 5-1) rallied for two runs in the sixth. In the seventh Dixon fended off VCSU with a throw from left field to home plate to tag the game-tying run out.
"It was a close call for sure," Dixon said of the play at the plate. "I was debating whether or not to leave it because it was foul and that was the tying run. But, I didn't really know what to do, so I decided to do that, and luckily I got her at home."
During the second game, the Beavers' bats went quiet. MSU was able to muster up one run in the seventh with Stacey Fournier driving in Ashley Smoke.
The Minot State duo of Jen Dixon and Mandy Greenberg tallied15 strikeouts in the two games on the mound. Greenberg went the distance in the first game then relieved Dixon in the nightcap.
"I've been bringing (Dixon) along, baby steps, pitching-wise," said MSU head coach Bill Triplett. "I brought Greenberg in there. I could have left Dixon in there with a zero-zero game, but I didn't. She's been doing very well in all aspects."
Playing on the field turf - the usual home of the MSU football and soccer teams - didn't have much of an effect on the game, Dixon said.
"It is different," Dixon said. "It's a really nice field. It's just hard to tell where the lines are and where the infield starts and where the outfield ends. But I think we played like we could on it."
"The surface plays great, and I wouldn't mind playing here more if our other diamonds aren't quite ready," Triplett said. "This was kind of a trial deal and it worked great."
Before the field turf was laid down, there were no intentions of playing a softball game on the surface. But since Thursday went so well, Triplett would not be opposed to playing more early season games on the turf.
"We hope to get that bubble on here over the top of this," he said. "We could be playing in January and February. Once you go D-II, the softball season starts that first day of the second semester, which will be Jan. 8 or so. We're hoping we can cover this thing in a year or two and really build a program here."
Wth the weather forcing postponements, MSU has not seen the field since March 18. so for Triplett, it was good for his girls to swing the bat again.
"It's been a lot of time since we came home from Tucson and we just needed to play," Triplett said. "Even though this last one got a little cold but it was great to be out here.",