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Majettes softball looking to take step forward in ‘22

A young Minot Majettes softball team saw their first season since 2019 end earlier than it was hoping for, but there are many areas the team is looking to as signs of optimism in the coming years.

A squad that consisted of only two seniors, Paige Ackerman and Taylee Hertz, completed its regular season with 16 wins in 26 games on the strength of eye-popping offensive numbers and a solid pitching staff in support.

The team scored double-digit runs in 10 of its 16 regular-season victories, highlighted by a 29-6 rout of Turtle Mountain Community High School April 30. The Majettes produced at least 20 runs on three other occasions as well, including a pair of wins by 23-1 and 20-3 over Watford City April 16.

“We had a decent year,” head coach Gerard Cederstrom said. “You always have expectations of achieving more, and only one team ends up on top. We definitely didn’t want to end our season when it ended, but that’s what happened. Hopefully we learn from that and work a little bit harder and get to what we want next year.”

Indeed, the Majettes dropped their Western Dakota Association quarterfinal matchup 6-1 to Jamestown High School, sending Minot High to a win-or-go-home loser-out contest against Williston High.

The team pulled out a victory in convincing fashion, beating the Coyotes 11-1, but its season came to a premature end when it dropped its state qualifier 8-2 to Bismarck May 29.

“We work all year on being resilient, and how we respond to things. We bounced back,” Cederstrom said of the Williston rout. “We had a pretty complete game, pitched well, played well and hit well. And then came out the next day and played decent defense, but just didn’t get enough hits.”

Such a game was an aberration from what the Majettes had become accustomed to throughout the two-month season. Their robust offensive outputs were built by impressive numbers at the plate by the majority of the team.

Ackerman’s .467 batting average led all regular starters, followed closely by Abby Barnum’s .436 mark. Overall, 10 hitters with at least 10 games played finished with an average of at least .300.

Ackerman and Barnum were recognized for their efforts Thursday morning, the North Dakota High School Coaches Association announced the duo was named to the 18-member 2021 Class A Softball All-State team representing Minot High.

Ackerman hit six home runs and 14 doubles to accompany her lofty batting average, as well as contributing 35 RBI. She was also a dependable arm, tossing 69.2 innings and adding 36 strikeouts to her ledger.

Barnum served as her battery-mate throughout the year, swatting 12 doubles and driving in 26 runs to go along with her .436 average. She also tied Reese Rice for the team-lead in stolen bases with 12 without being caught a single time.

“Paige, I think she relaxed more this year and just went after it,” Cederstrom said. “She didn’t sweat the small stuff. She’s athletic and can go out and get things done. Abby has worked hard at her game, so it’s nice to see that things do pay off.”

In order to best the team’s 2021 finish next season, Cederstrom noted that he expects and needs improvement in every facet of the game. The team will lose only Ackerman and Hertz to graduation, and the Minot head coach is optimistic about the growth his returners can experience with a continuation of the strong work ethic he witnessed all season.

“I just look forward to next year,” he continued. “We have a very good nucleus of kids coming back. There should be a lot of competition for the open spots, and I look forward to seeing these kids working hard in the offseason. Right now, I’m ready for next year to start.”

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