With plenty of games played in a short time, tournaments have a way of testing teams.
So by the end of the Valley City Junior High Invitational softball tournament, the hosting Hi-Liners were simply drained.
“We played right away at 9 a.m., then we had an hour off,” Valley City coach Lucas Potter said. “After that it was one game we won, another game we won, so by the time that third game hits, what are you going to do?”
So with pitchers tired and a catcher who could hardly take the field, the Hi-Liners finished the tournament with an 15-0 loss to West Fargo 2, which used its high-powered offense to beat the Hi-Liners 15-0 in three innings.
West Fargo’s two teams took the top two spots in the tournament, with Valley City taking third.
The Hi-Liners worked into the spot by recovering from a 13-0 loss to Fargo South in their opening game.
Potter said the main problem was sluggishness due to an early start time, combined with a loss to South earlier in the year.
“Combining being tired and the mentality that they had already beat us, that hurt us in the first game,” Potter said.
It wasn’t until the second game, in which the Hi-Liners got a 4-1 win over Grafton, that the team started to show its talent.
Much of the success in the game, Potter attributed to pitcher Brenna Dieterle, who had six strikeouts, but lost three more to runners reaching on a dropped third strike.
“When you strikeout nine people, that not only throws momentum in our favor, but it kills their momentum,” Potter said.
Potter then checked with his other top pitcher, Taryn Justesen, and had Dieterle continue into a rematch with Fargo South, which Valley City won 11-7.
“Brenna was on a hot streak,” Potter said. “Sure enough, it was the same thing against Fargo South. She struck out another four batters and was pitching well. I think every batter got to two strikes.”
In the rematch, the Hi-Liners also got offense at key points in the game, including a four-run second inning.
South eventually worked back into a 6-4 lead, but the Hi-Liners got late-game offense to win it.
“I’ll admit I was scared,” Potter said. “That one inning, they scored six runs, but when they came in between innings, I talked to them and got them focused.
“That game was a great game because we were down, we were up. They didn’t give up.”
Potter credited Dieterle as a key part of the team’s success in the tournament, but said every girl contributed in one way.
He was also pleased with Haley Schnaidt, who caught the first three games for Valley City. Potter said after catching all three, she ended up too sore to play the fourth.
“I asked her constantly in that third game if she needed a break,” he said. “She really wanted to finish, so I thought that was big of her.”