CASSELTON, N.D.-There's plenty of construction equipment in and around the athletic complex at Central Cass High School, but one facility has that new car look and smell. Kost Field, with its newly installed artificial turf, dugouts and stands, is a softball gem.
The team that plays on it looks like a well-oiled machine, too.
The Squirrels got a payback of sorts for one of their two losses this season, defeating Thompson 10-0 in the title game of the North Dakota Class B East Region tournament. On a beautiful Tuesday night, Central Cass and its roster full of young players showed the rest of the state the future may be now.
The Squirrels (18-2) will find out for sure at the Class B state tournament in Jamestown on May 31 through June 2. Thompson, Kindred-Richland and Northern Cass will also join them as representatives from the East.
"We have some unfinished business yet, we're not done," said Central Cass head coach Scott Kost.
Isabelle Linnard's two-out grand slam home run to center field in the sixth inning put the finishing touch on a victory in a game that Central Cass had in hand the entire way.
"Our hitting has been dangerous," said Central Cass second baseman Kenzie McKinnon.
It was a reversal from the regular season loss to Thompson, a game in which the Squirrels committed eight errors. They did not have an error on Tuesday.
"Our game plan was to limit the errors," McKinnon said.
The Squirrels, who were the visiting team on the scoreboard, didn't waste time getting the jump on the Tommies. Lexi Buhr's sacrifice fly was followed by McKinnon's two-run blast over the left-field fence. That quickly made it 3-0 in the top of the first inning.
Central Cass took advantage of some errant play by the Tommies in the fourth inning. Kaitlyn Houle and Rylie Holzer, the No. 8 and 9 batters in the lineup, drew walks to open the inning. Houle eventually scored on a wild pitch and Holzer came home on a passed ball.
An error brought home another run and it was 6-0.
"It's so nice to have a great lineup from first to the end," McKinnon said.
Meanwhile, as the pitcher, Buhr did not allow a hit until an infield single in the bottom of the fourth. She got out of a bases-loaded jam unscathed and the Squirrels maintained control heading to the late innings.
Linnard's homer made the outcome a formality. The game ended after six innings because of the 10-run rule.
Central Cass celebrated, taking a team photo with the title trophy in front of the large red "CC" logo in center field.
"I think there's a lot of pride in our program and we're getting tons of community support," Kost said. "It's a beautiful facility."
In the state-qualifier games, Amanda Roesler's two-out, three-run double to the left-center field gap broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning for Kindred-Richland. Roesler eventually scored on a wild pitch and the Vikings were on their way to a 4-1 victory over Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg-Hatton-Northwood.
Pitcher Theresa Klinnert was tough to solve for May-Port. She gave up a pair of singles and struck out 13, including seven of the first nine batters.
Northern Cass grabbed the other state tourney berth with a 9-7 win over Hillsboro-Central Valley. Catcher Anyssa Hayden had a home run, a double and three RBIs to lead the Jaguars. Bailey Nelson scored four runs, getting on base all five times she was at-bat.
Laura Spurgeon had three hits for Hillsboro-Central Valley.
Central Cass 300 304- 10 9 0
Thompson 000 000- 0 4 3
L. Buhr and Linnard. Jordheim, Stumpf (4) and Dolleslager. W--. L--. HR, CC, McKinnon, Linnard.
NC 230 021 1-9 7 1
H-CV 201 101 2-7 11 4
Degerness and Hayden. Forseth, Trudel (5) and Ensign, Mathys (5). W--Degerness. L-Forseth. HR--NC, Hayden.
MPCG 000 001 0--1 2 1
K-R 000 400 x--4 4 1
Bergstrom and Ust. Klinnert and Olien. W--Klinnert. L--Bergstrom.