Central Cass clinches 3rd consecutive state softball championship with victory over Thompson
Central Cass earned its fifth state title in nine years.
JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Central Cass head softball coach Scott Kost was just taking it all in when the dust settled on Jamestown's Trapper Field.
"It feels great to come out on top," Kost said, looking at his group of players cheering and hugging.
The Squirrels clinched their third straight Class B state softball championship on Saturday. Central Cass topped state runner-up Thompson 4-1 to earn its fifth state title in nine years.
"They are awesome," Kost said of his team. "I am so proud of them. Every team is a little bit different (but) they worked very hard this year. It does (feel) good to come out on top."
The Squirrels had a bit of a slow start offensively, scoring only three against Wilton-Wing and two against Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood/Kenmare/Bowbells in the opening two rounds. Kost said his squad responded well to his call for better swings right off the bat on Saturday.
In the bottom of the first, junior Peyton Nelson stepped into the batter's box with the bases loaded and sent a pitch through the hole at shortstop for a two-run single, giving the Squirrels an early 2-0 lead.
Kost said prior to the Class B state tourney that he had all of the confidence in the world in Nelson's ability at the plate and on defense. The junior toed the rubber in the quarterfinals against Wilton-Wing where she threw seven strikeouts to help defeat the Miners 3-2.
"She had a great hit there that got us going," Kost said. "One thing I thought about was, as soon as she got that one going, then I felt like we were in a really good place and I thought we would swing the bats better in the subsequent innings and that's exactly what we did."
Nelson doubled down on her coach's call for an explosive offense.
The junior ripped one to the center field fence, easily driving in Holzer in the bottom of the fourth. There was confusion with Nelson taking off for third where Catie Sinner was planning to stay. Sinner was tagged out for the third out of the frame.
While Kost would have liked to drive in the couple runners left on base, the Squirrels' 4-0 lead held until the top of the sixth when Mya Krogstad scored one for the Tommies.
Nelson went a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with all three of the Squirrels' RBIs and a double.
"Peyton is a person that we can always rely on," Central Cass senior pitcher Aubree Lindstrom said. "That gave us a lot of energy to help us go in knowing that we could do this."
The Squirrels outhit the Tommies 7-5, but Kost said the fate of the game came down to defense, much like it did last week when the two teams met in the East Region title game where he and his squad snuck out a 2-1 win.
While Nelson led the state champs at the plate, Lindstrom was the one who took control of the defensive game.
"She's just awesome," Kost said. "This is the biggest game she's ever played in and she just looked unflappable. She stayed ahead, she hit her spots. They got a couple of hits there at the end but, man alive, she was just very dominating."
The senior allowed one run off the Tommies' five hits and recorded zero walks.
When the Tommies did get a hit off the electric pitcher, she tried to make it a pop-fly or ground ball for her defense to work behind her.
The senior's game plan worked out the very last play of the game.
After striking out the first two Tommie batters, Lindstrom was set to square off against Sydney Schwabe, who was 0-2 entering the box. Lindstrom said she was trying to throw it as hard as she could to get the third and final strike, but Schwabe connected and the ball flew out to left field where Grace Fletschock was waiting with an open glove.
"We're right there," Thompson head coach Matt Chandler said. "Lindstrom was electric, she was great today. Central Cass is a well-coached squad, they are fundamentally sound. There's no going back and there are no regrets. I've seen these kids work hard since they were little kids. We left it all on the field today."
Thompson was returning just three varsity players from its 2019 squad heading into the season and proved to be the only Class B team that could beat Central Cass. The Tommies outscored the Squirrels 7-6 on May 11.
"This is a resilient group of kids," Chandler said. "They fought to the very end. I can't say enough good things about the kids — we'd be here for hours."
The Tommies were dominant in the opening two rounds of the tourney, defeating Beulah 10-0 in five innings and nearly shut out Des Lacs-Burlington-Lewis and Clark in Friday's semifinals. Thompson defeated the Lakers 5-1 to advance to its first-ever state title game.
"They are a well-coached team," Kost said of Thompson. "They are a great competitor, so it does feel really good to come out on top."
Central Cass 4, Thompson 1
T 000 001 0 — 1 5 1
CC 300 100 X — 4 7 1
THOM — Grace Stumpf; CC — Aubree Lindstrom. W — Lindstrom; L — Stumpf.
THOM — Mya Krogstad 1-3; Grace Stumpf 2-3; Kaitlin Samuelson 1-3; Jada Welke 1-3;.
CC — Lindstrom (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K); Peyton Nelson 2-2, 3 RBI, 2B; Grace Fletschock 2-3; Tori Richter 1-4; Rylie Holzer 1-3; Barbara Prante 1-3.
Des Lacs/Burlington/LC 15, Mohall-LS/KB 5
M-LS/KB 111 200 X — 5 7 8
DLB/LC 305 223 X — 15 8 7
M-LS/KB — Ginger Savelkoul; DLB — Brooklyn Benno. W — Benno ; L — Savelkoul.
M-LS/KB — Kate Zimmer 2-4; Savelkoul 2-4; Emma Southam 1-3; Gabriella Porcello 1-2; Karsyn Lautenschlager 1-3.
DLB — Benno (6 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 8 K) 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Kaelyn Bachmeier 1-3; Ava Wille 1-5; Brynley Benno 1-1.
NDHSCHA POWERade Senior Athlete of the Year: Brooklyn Benno, Des Lacs-Burlington/Lewis and Clark
NDHSCHA SUBWAY Coach of the Year: Peggy Person, Des Lacs-Burlington/Lewis and Clark
Beulah 4, Kindred/Richland 2
K/R 000 101 0 — 2 3 3
BEU 101 200 X — 4 6 1
K/R — Abigail McDonald; BEU — Taylor Christensen. W — Christensen; L — McDonald.
K/R — Braya Mauch 1-3; McDonald 1-3; Mackenzie Fuxa 1-3.
BEU — Ava Seibel 2-3, RBI, 2B; Christensen 1-4; Cali Steffan 1-3; Mackenzie Brown 1-3, RBI.
May-Port-C-G 15, Wilton-Wing 5
WW 410 000 X — 5 6 4
MPCG 153 033 X — 15 18 3
WW — Taryn Schurhamer; MPCG — Rylee Satrom, Kylie Carpenter (6). W — Satrom; L — Schurhamer.
WW — Schurhamer (5.1 IP, 18 H, 15 R, 10 ER, 4 BB, 8 K) 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI; Hannah Fischer 2-4, Kalyssa Schock 2-3, RBI.
MPCG — Danica Hanson 3-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Maysa Larson 3-5; Ilanora Peterson 3-4, HR, 4 RBI; Raina Satrom 3-4, 4 RBI; Rylee Satrom 2-3, 3 RBI.