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DLBLC softball defeats Bishop Ryan, 4-1, for Sub-Region 3 title

Justin Martinez/MDN DLBLC senior Ava Rogers (16) sends a shot down the left-field line while junior Erica Hermanson (4) dashes to third during the Lakers’ 4-1 win over Bishop Ryan on Tuesday in the Sub-Region 3 title game at the South Hill Softball Complex.

Inches from the finish line, DLBLC softball head coach Peggy Person watched anxiously from the dugout, urging sophomore pitcher Brooklyn Benno to get it done.

“Come on 17,” Person said under her breath repeatedly. “Get us a strike.”

Seventeen is Benno’s number – The same number the first-seeded Lakers called on consistently down the stretch of their Sub-Region 3 championship match against second-seeded Bishop Ryan on Tuesday at the South Hill Softball Complex.

It’d been a long, hard-fought battle, but the Lakers were now one strike away from the title as they led 4-1 in the top of the seventh inning with two outs and a full count. All that stood in their way was Ryan junior Grace Candrian, who refused to go down easily at the plate.

Candrian had already caused plenty of problems for the Lakers up until that point. The junior put the pressure on the top seed in the opening inning by hitting a blooper to left field that dropped and platted one run, giving the Lions an early 1-0 edge.

Justin Martinez/MDN Bishop Ryan senior Sidney Lovelace (right) watches as DLBLC sophomore Ava Wille (left) makes the catch during the Lakers’ 4-1 win over the Lions on Tuesday in the Sub-Region 3 title game at the South Hill Softball Complex.

But Ava Wille had the response in the bottom of the frame. The DLBLC sophomore kicked things off with a double up the middle and ultimately stole home two at-bats later to knot the score at one run apiece.

“It was really important to get going on the scoreboard,” Wille said. “It felt really good. Everybody calmed down, and we eased into our hitting.”

It was all DLBLC from there.

Eight-grader Kaelyn Bachmeier gave the Lakers a 2-1 advantage in the bottom of the second inning with an RBI single, one more run scored that inning off a wild pitch and junior Alyea Casavant pushed the lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single of her own.

Meanwhile, the Lions struggled to generate consistent offense against DLBLC’s two-headed monster of junior Erica Hermanson and Benno inside the circle. Hermanson allowed just one run in four innings pitched, and Benno took over from there without so much as a hiccup.

“I’m just so happy for (Hermanson and Benno),” Person said. “They’ve come such a long way, and it’s a nice option to have…They were both stellar tonight.”

Now, Benno just had to get past Candrian.

Her first attempt was a bullet of a pitch down the middle, but Candrian reacted just in time and sent it into foul-ball territory. Benno brought the heat once again, and once again the Lions’ last hope survived with another foul ball.

Each pitch brought both sighs of relief from Ryan’s dugout and sounds of anguish from the Lakers’ dugout as Benno neared double-digit pitches against Candrian.

“I just wanted to come out on top,” Benno said. “Give credit to (Candrian). She’s a great hitter, and (Ryan) is a great team.”

Finally, Benno prevailed.

Benno sent a ball in Candrian’s direction, and the junior made contact. But, this time, it stayed in play. The high-flying ball came right to Benno, who calmly made an over-the-shoulder grab for the final out.

Fans of the Lakers erupted from the stands, as DLBLC secured the 4-1 victory and the Sub-Region 3 title.

“It feels great,” Benno said. “I’m really proud of how we were able to push all the way through, hold (Ryan) to that one run and play as a team.”

Bachmeier finished with one RBI and one run on 2-for-3 hitting for the Lakers, while Candrian recorded one RBI and a double on 3-for-4 hitting for the Lions.

With the Sub-Region 3 tournament now in the books, both DLBLC and Ryan will continue their seasons at the Class B West Region tournament in Beulah from next Monday to Tuesday.

Joining them are Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood/Kenmare-Bowbells and Westhope/Newburg/Bottineau, who both won their region-qualifying games on Tuesday. MLSKB bested Stanley by a score of 16-3, and WNB defeated Ray by a score of 16-11.

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.

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