Bison softball uses power surge, Sertic to win another Summit tournament crown

FARGO — North Dakota State softball used a dash of raw power to earn a spot in the NCAA Division I tournament for a fifth consecutive season.
The Bison blasted two home runs to fuel a six-run third inning. That power play helped lift NDSU to a 6-1 victory against South Dakota State to win the Summit League tournament championship Saturday, May 12, at Ellig Sports Complex before 507 fans.
“Pretty much the whole seventh inning, I told the team, I told myself, enjoy this,” said Bison senior pitcher Jacquelyn Sertic. “This is the last game that you get on this field. This is the last game that this team gets on this dirt.”
The Bison (33-17) have won a league record five consecutive Summit tournament titles, and also nine of the past 10 tournament crowns. The NCAA selection show is scheduled for 9 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2, unveiling the 64-team bracket.
“This is my fifth ring I’m going to get, which is pretty crazy,” said Bison fifth-year senior Dani Renner. “Every single one is special.”
Renner helped the Bison charge into the lead for good during that game-changing third inning. First baseman Vanessa Anderson sparked the rally with a line-drive, three-run home run blast that easily cleared the fence in right-center field.
A pinch hitter, Renner capped the scoring outburst, belting a three-run home run over the wall in left field to give the Bison a 6-1 lead.
“It’s huge to get a big inning like that,” Bison head coach Darren Mueller said. “It’s tough for anyone to come back. … I felt a lot more comfortable.”
That proved to be more than enough run support for Sertic, who finished with 12 strikeouts. The right-hander allowed one earned run on three hits, while walking two batters.
Sertic was named the tournament’s most valuable player with a 3-0 record and 36 strikeouts in three tournament starts.
SDSU right fielder Abbey Murphy led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run that gave the Jackrabbits an early 1-0 lead. Giving up that big fly didn’t faze Sertic.
“I left it pretty fat. She definitely took advantage of it,” Sertic said. “I knew the team would have my back.”
That first-inning home run was the only run Sertic allowed in the Summit League tournament. She threw a 15-strikeout no-hitter against the Jackrabbits on Friday to help NDSU advance to Saturday’s championship game. SDSU would have had to beat the Bison twice to win the the championship.
Sertic retired the last 15 batters she faced Saturday. That streak started after the Jackrabbits had loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the third inning. She responded with three consecutive strikeouts to escape that potential SDSU rally unblemished.
Sertic said she’s relished every Summit tournament championship the team has won since she entered the program.
“We know how hard that is. Winning is freaking hard,” Sertic said. “It never gets old because we put in so much work. … It’s something we really want to do every year.”
The announced crowd of 507 fans was an attendance record for a Summit League title game.
“That was pretty sweet. That’s pretty cool,” Mueller said of the crowd. “Bison fans are great. To get people come out here and support us say a lot.”