West Fargo softball wins 13th straight championship, second since sanctioning
The Packers did it again.
Last weekend, the West Fargo softball team brought home its 13th straight state title - and its second since the sport was sanctioned.
With a streak like that, winning championships seems like old hat for Packers coach Pat Johnson.
But "it doesn't get old," he said "And it's better than losing."
As a No. 1-seed with a long history of success, West Fargo was pegged as the favorite heading into the state tournament. Still, during postseason play, coaches know all bets are off.
"We knew we had to play our game," Johnson said.
The Packers proved they certainly were the team to beat after blowing out Devils Lake in the first round 16-1.
West Fargo tallied eight runs off 13 batters in the first period alone, creating a gap the Firebirds would never get a chance to bridge.
Junior Kacie Johnson earned the win, and went 2-for-3 with a run at the plate. Madison Anderson led the Packers' offense after going 3-for-3 and scoring twice. Carissa Becher and Brook Rheault both scored three runs, while Allison Klug scored two.
Before facing Minot Ryan in the semifinals, Pat Johnson knew he'd have to have his team ready.
"Their pitcher was probably the best we'd face along the way," he said. "We knew that if Kacie played well and we had solid defense, we'd do OK."
Pat's daughter didn't disappoint. The junior displayed one of her best postseason performances on the mound by posting a no-hitter and leading West Fargo to a 4-0 win.
"Kacie did well, she's strong," Pat Johnson said.
Senior Madison Anderson opened the first inning with a triple, and scored the winning run off an RBI from Kacie Johnson. Allison Klug and Carissa Becher also scored runs throughout the game, while Danielle Nelson hit a homer.
Finding itself in the championship game once again, West Fargo knew it needed nothing but the best to keep its title streak alive. But early on, the Packers hit a bit of a snag while facing Grand Forks Red River.
"We got uptight a little bit and caused a bit of a problem, but we just had to relax," Pat Johnson said. The Roughriders "had solid defense. They weren't going to give us runs, we had to earn them. That worked out well."
Tied 2-2 at the bottom of the fifth inning, Pat Johnson knew his team needed someone to get the offense going. Enter Harle Andel. With two outs and runners on first and second bases, the sophomore came in as a pinch hitter and clobbered a two-RBI double for West Fargo's winning run.
Kacie Johnson followed her semifinal performance with a complete game, striking out seven and allowing just three hits, two runs and a walk. Offensively she was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a double.
Looking back on the year, Pat Johnson is proud of how his team performed.
"It was a good season," he said. "We played well, didn't give up a lot of hits and outscored opponents quite a bit."
Pat sees only one problem with winning another state title.
"Before your first state title you don't have a bull's-eye on your back," he said. "Then, it just gets bigger and bigger."