Softball team takes state; pitcher Rheault dominates
The streak of consecutive state softball championships won by West Fargo moved to 17 this weekend in the Magic City.
Senior pitcher Brittany Rheault scattered four hits and struck out 14 batters, which was one strikeout short of the single-game tournament record she set in a 7-1 win against Dickinson in the semifinals Friday.
Rheault was dominant all weekend, finishing with a tournament record 41 strikeouts. The previous record was 25 strikeouts held by former West Fargo pitching standout Kacie Johnson.
The Packers have played Ryan in the title game the last three seasons. West Fargo scored 1-0 victories in the previous two meetings.
“I think that every Packer holds the weight of keeping up that streak,” Rheault said. “It was an amazing experience freshman to senior year, and I couldn’t have thought of a better group to do it with than the girls that are right here.”
Ryan jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning scoring an unearned run off Rheault, who started the previous two state championship games against the Lions.
West Fargo (30-1) answered in the second inning tying the game and took the lead scoring four runs in the fourth inning.
Ryan committed six errors in the game and were unable to get anything going against Rheault.
“We knew here (in Minot) it was going to be 18 versus a town because there are a lot of people,” said West Fargo head coach Pat Johnson, who was named Class A coach of the year following the victory. “We wanted to keep the crowd out of it as much as possible.”
“Honestly, I think them scoring the first run is the best thing that could have happened to us because we are a team that thrives on responding back when we get down,” Rheault added. “I think that that was a good thing to get us in the game even more and to make us go even harder.
Four of West Fargo’s runs were earned.
Freshman Morgan Geiszler was 2-for-2 with three runs scored, three walks and an RBI. Junior Madison Nelson also recorded two hits for the Packers.
Rheault was named Class A senior athlete of the year following the victory. Rheault and and senior catcher Michaela Liebl are the only seniors the Packers will lose to graduation this spring.
“Every (Championship) is special to me because I’m losing two kids that I won’t get to coach again and they are two great kids,” Johnson said of the Rheault and Liebl.
West Fargo opened the tournament with a 2-0 win against Bismarck Century in the quarterfinals.