Impact second on big stage
It is hard to doubt the talent of West Fargo softball. Look no further than the Packers' 14 straight North Dakota Class A State Championships for proof of that.
But another test came recently on the national stage, and West Fargo once again proved it's a team to be reckoned with.
The West Fargo Impact (the Packers' equivalent for girls fastpitch softball during the summer) finished runner up during the Amateur Softball Association Northern B National Under-18 Tournament on Aug. 4-7 in Rochester, Minn. The Impact were one of 20 teams from the region, which encompasses Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Illinois.
"When you get to play different people, that's what it's all about," West Fargo coach Pat Johnson said. "We played teams from Minnesota, Missouri and Illinois. The competition was really good."
The Impact's second-place finish is the best of any North Dakota team in the history of the tournament. They lost 6-3 to the Missouri Trentonettes in the title game.
West Fargo qualified for the National Tournament by winning the State ASA Tournament, held July 22-23 in Bismarck.
All of the girls playing for the Impact also played for the West Fargo High School Team, and many likely will be returning players, Johnson said.
"They all should have a chance at playing varsity," he said.
The Impact began the National Tournament with pool play Thursday, and defeated Norwood Young America 10-1 in Game 1. They placed first after beating the Hallie Hotrodders 7-1.
This let West Fargo sit out Friday's first round of bracket play. Winning their first two games, the Impact picked up their first loss against the Trentonettes during the Saturday nightcap. The 5-0 loss dropped them in the bracket.
Sunday morning, the Impact rebounded with wins over the Minnesota Xplosion (11-1), Sleepy Eye (6-3), and Bi-County (5-4).
Finding themselves suddenly in the championship match, the Impact once again had to face the Trentonettes; the only team they'd lost to in three days. But in the end, the Missouri team, once again, came out on top.
"We had our chances against them," Johnson said. "They probably had the best pitching of any team there."
The Packers managed to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning with one out, he said, but couldn't get that key hit to chalk up the winning runs.
Several players in particular stuck out for West Fargo. Brittany Rheault pitched the Impact to five wins without giving up a loss. On offense, Sydney Greenlund went .500 at the plate.
But it didn't just fall on the shoulders of a handful of players. To Johnson, the win was a group endeavor and he's more than happy with it.
"All the players that you'd think would do well, did," he said. "They all chipped in. It was a complete team effort."