Solid pitching and timely hitting.
That's been the recipe for success during the Minot State softball team's current win streak, and those two ingredients were present once again in a series sweep of No. 19 Winona State on Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium.
MSU junior pitcher Mindy Lorimor pitched all 14 innings, allowing four runs on 10 hits while striking out eight in 4-1 and 7-3 victories against the Warriors. Lorimor pitched a two-hitter in Game 1, retiring the first seven batters she faced.
Minot State junior Mindy Lorimor delivers a pitch during Game 1 of a doubleheader against Winona State on Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium. She pitched two complete games.
Katie Backes went 3-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored in a pair of victories for Minot State.
The only WSU batter who had any success against Lorimor was senior infielder Jenny Nelson, who hit a solo homer in each game. Lorimor improved to 14-5 on the mound this season for MSU, which has won eight straight.
"She had a heck of a day," MSU coach Bill Triplett said of Lorimor. "She gave up a couple of dingers, but that girl is a good hitter. She hits them regularly.
"She hit her spots really well and changed speeds really well. (Jen) Dixon and (Alyssa) Cornejo may throw harder than she does, but she's really a good pitcher."
Dixon and Cornejo didn't see time in the circle against the Warriors, but made their presence felt in the batter's box. With the score tied 1-1 with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Cornejo connected on a three-run home run to center field to give the Beavers (20-8 overall, 7-3 Northern Sun) a 4-1 lead in Game 1.
"I wasn't thinking about (a home run) up there," Cornejo said. "I just wanted to put runs on the board and help my team. They did it for me in the past weeks, so I wanted to return the favor."
After allowing a home run to Nelson in the top of the fourth, Lorimor returned the final 11 Warriors in order.
"I give a lot of credit to my catcher," Lorimor said. "Darlene (Truong) knows a lot more of what to call than I do. A lot of the strikeouts are going to her."
Dixon got the Beavers on the board first in Game 2, smacking a three-run home run to left-center in the bottom of the third to give MSU a 3-0 lead. Dixon's sixth long ball of the year didn't travel as far as the long ball she launched against Bemidji State on Thursday, but provided the Beavers with some early momentum.
The Warriors (20-6, 3-3) trimmed MSU's lead to 3-2 on RBI singles by Evie Schaller and Morgan Lintz in the top of the fourth. Lorimor got Cydnei Gunderson to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
"I wasn't getting tired or anything, I think they were just catching on, so I was going deeper into the count," Lorimor said. "After a full game, they're going to see more pitches."
The Beavers gave their starting pitcher some added run support in the bottom of the fourth, again with two outs. After freshman Jordan Grant popped out to second with the bases loaded, junior Melissa Bell belted a 0-1 pitch over the right-field fence. The grand slam pushed MSU's advantage to 7-2.
"Anytime you get two-out hits, it's huge because it's a momentum breaker," Triplett said. "The other team's thinking they can get out of the inning, they only need one more out. When you get a two-out hit and score, that's a big lift to your offense."
The Beavers host a doubleheader against Upper Iowa today at Herb Parker Stadium beginning at 11 a.m.
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and the Minot Minotauros. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.