Valley City High School softball coach Jason Lindgren had mixed feelings on his team’s 7-6 regular season-ending loss to Fargo Shanley Monday at the Valley City State University softball complex.
There was plenty of good that came from it, but similarly some struggles. There were highs, lows, leads, comebacks. Not to mention the #3 seed in the Eastern Dakota Conference tournament was on the line.
“It’s probably the game that it should have been, other than the wins and losses,” Valley City coach Jason Lindgren said. “It’s the last game of the year, the winner’s in third. It’s that close and that’s probably the way those (higher ranked) teams should play. It should be that close of a game.”
With a win, the Hi-Liners would have been the third seed in the regional tournament, which starts Thursday. Instead, the Hi-Liners are the fifth seed and play #4 Grand Forks Red River at 4:30 p.m. in West Fargo to start the tournament.
What Monday’s game came down to was Shanley taking advantage of Hi-Liner mistakes.
For the most part, Valley City kept the Deacon offense in check.
Only five Deacons reached base by making solid contact with the ball, two for extra bases. It was the last and biggest hit Shanley got that really hurt.
Leading off the top of the eighth inning, Shanley second baseman Tristan Webber found her pitch and drove a fly ball to deep right field.
It set her up to score the deciding run on a passed ball during the next at-bat. It was one of two passed balls that allowed runs, in addition to four fielding errors by the Hi-Liners.
But where the Hi-Liners struggled defensively at times, they made up for with reliable hitting, stringing together 11 hits, starting from the beginning of the game.
Amanda Tangen, the second hitter in the team’s lineup, started her day with a double to left field and scored on a double by Dierra Diegel. Dierra later scored when Danica Diegel reached base on an error.
The score remained 2-0 until the fourth inning.
Shanley started the fourth with a double to left field and the next batter was hit by a pitch. VC pitcher Keely Fogarty then struck out the next two hitters. With two out, the Hi-Liners then had an error in the infield, a passed ball that allowed a run to score.
Valley City’s right fielder then dropped a shallow fly ball, allowing another run to score. Shanley left the inning with a 3-2 lead.
The Hi-Liners got the runs back in the bottom. Jessica Denholm led off with a single, followed by a walk to Fogarty. Madison McDaniel then had a single to center that drove in Denholm, Jenna Coghlan singled to the infield to score Fogarty, and Tangen had an RBI ground out to score McDaniel.
Shanley had two quick outs in the top of the fifth, but then put together a two-run rally, started by a walk and a single, both of which eventually scored on a single to right field to tie it 5-5.
Shanley then took the lead in the sixth inning when the team’s leadoff hitter was hit by a pitch, then worked her way around the bases and scored on a single to center field to make it 6-5.
Valley City got a final offensive boost in the bottom of the seventh.
After a strikeout to start the inning, Dierra Diegel singled to right field. During Brooke Breckheimer’s at-bat she stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Breckheimer then hit a sharp, low double up the middle to score Diegel, but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple.
Lindgren said he was pleased with the offense, largely because the success wasn’t limited to one or two good innings, but spanned throughout the game.
Fogarty pitched a complete game, throwing all eight innings with five strikeouts and five walks.
Lindgren said the team is looking forward to starting the regional tournament Thursday and getting another shot at Red River, who the Hi-Liners lost 12-1 to in their season opener.
The two teams finished tied for points in the EDC, with the Rough Riders getting the #4 seed based due to their win over the Hi-Liners.
“I’m excited for this weekend,” he said. “It’s unfortunate we weren’t the third seed but we’ve got to win to move on. ... It doesn’t change that much.”