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Ty's Take: Spring tournaments begin Thursday

The West Fargo baseball team celebrates after a good play last week against Moorhead. David Samson / Forum Communications Co.

With final projects due and graduation right around the corner, West Fargo students are undoubtedly looking forward to a few months of summer relaxation.

But for Packer athletes, there is some last-minute competition to conquer along with their studies.

This week marks the beginning of postseason play for spring sports. And in just three short weeks, all manner of tournaments, both conference and state, will be wrapped up for another year.

Here's a breakdown of the tournament outlook, as well as the weekly West Fargo sports wrap.

Tennis first out of the gate

Kicking off the postseason is girls tennis, which gets going with the opening round of the East Region tournament on Thursday in Grand Forks.

The Packers finished the regular season 7-1 against conference opponents, and were runners up in the Eastern Dakota Conference.

They also were runners up to unbeaten Grand Forks Red River - which defended its regular-season crown for yet another season - last week during the Ninth Annual West Fargo Invitational. The Packers finished the two-day tournament with 25 points; just two points behind the Roughriders.

In all, West Fargo finished first or second in every flight except one. Kaylee Stock, Sarina Olson, Katie Baasch and Mariah Stein took flight wins, while Brooke Christensen placed second. In the top bracket, Sammie Smith wound up taking the fifth-place championship.

The Packers' first-round opponent Thursday will be No. 7 Valley City (2-6 EDC, 2-7 overall) at the Register Courts, beginning at 4 p.m. They will be gunning for a higher finish than last year when they took second place, but that might be a tall order given Red River's undeniable dominance.

Regardless, if West Fargo qualifies, they will move on to the state tournament, which runs May 24-26 at various courts across Fargo and West Fargo.

Track up next

The West Fargo track and field team is gearing up to hit the postseason with serious momentum.

Beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday at Fargo South high School, the Packers will take on the entire EDC to see who will be crowned conference champs.

They've got a good chance, too, after having won or nearly won every meet of the regular season.

The Packers also had a final meet Monday at Concordia College Moorhead, but results were unavailable by press time.

Last year, the West Fargo boys team took first place for the second year in a row. The girls are hoping to improve after a fourth-place finish.

Baseball standings heating up

The top spots in the EDC have been razor close for most of the season.

At the moment, West Fargo is in the No. 2 spot behind Red River. The Packers boast a 12-4 conference record and are 21-4 overall, while the Riders are 13-4 in conference play and 16-6 overall.

But the parity doesn't stop there.

Back in third place, Fargo North sits at 11-4, 13-12, while Davies is 11-6, 18-10.

In short, come tournament time, it could be anyone's game.

And if the Packers keep playing the way they have been recently, it could be their tournament to win.

Last week, West Fargo was flawless in five contests, including a doubleheader sweep over Red River on Thursday. The Packers also picked up a pair of EDC wins Saturday against Devils Lake (1-13, 2-16).

Andy Young leads the offense with a .420 batting average and team highs of 27 runs batted in and three home runs. In all, four West Fargo batters (Kory Wolden, Young, Brock Evenson and Tucker Bucholz) have batting averages of .369 or higher.

On the mound, the Packers also boast an arsenal of talent. Of the pitcher receiving the most time on the field, Willie Barger, Young, Camran Bonnema and Zack Steckler, all have earned run averages ranging from 2.25 (Steckler) to 1.25 (Barker). Combined, the quartet boasts a 17-2 record.

Including Tuesday's games against Fargo North (which were not available by press time) the Packers just have four more days of competition until the East Region tournament May 24-26 in Fargo. This week, West Fargo hosts Bemidji at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, then has a doubleheader Friday beginning at 5 p.m. against Valley City.

The Packers' final regular-season games of the 2011-12 season will be a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday against visiting Bismarck St. Mary's.

Last, but not least

Softball, girls soccer and boys golf will round out the spring postseason.

The first-ever East Region softball tournament runs May 24-26 in West Fargo. The Packers (15-0, 23-2) play at Fargo North (12-3, 14-4) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and then have their final games at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday on the road against Roseau and Warroad, respectively.

The girls soccer state tournament is May 31-June 2, and the boys golf EDC tournament is May 30 at Edgewood Golf Course. State runs June 5-6 in Dickinson.