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Packers softball meets expectations

West Fargo's Jolene Woodbury pitches against Fargo North during the East Region championship game Saturday at Elmwood Park in West Fargo. David Samson / Forum Communications Co.

For 14 straight years - back even before softball was sanctioned as a high school sport in North Dakota - West Fargo has been a force to be reckoned with.

In that time, the Packers have won every single state tournament. And while their chance to add No. 15 to that list won't happen until this weekend, the perennial power chalked up one more accolade to its already long list of achievements: a first-ever conference tournament title.

On Saturday, the Packers beat Fargo North 9-0 in the East Region championship during the inaugural running of the tournament in West Fargo.

For years, seeding for the state tournament were solely based on standings. This year, however, teams had to earn their way the same as many other high school sports via last-ditch conference shootouts.

The Packers got their No. 1 spot through the same hard determination and ruthlessness they've displayed all year, culminating in a flawless Eastern Dakota Conference record and 30-2 overall.

And when all was said and done, five West Fargo players (Sydney Greenlund, Brook Rheault, Lexi Lennon, Jolene Woodbury and Brittany Rheault) earned All-Conference honors.

To top it all off, the Packers didn't allow a single run in the three-game stretch, while piling on 36 of their own.

Brittany Rheault and Woodbury combined to no-hit Fargo Davies en route to a 17-0 five-inning drubbing during Thursday's opening round.

On Friday, West Fargo punched their title-game ticket by beating Valley City 10-0 in another five-inning shortened game.

Harle Andel hit her first home run of the season with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning to end it. She also had six runs batted in on the night.

Brittany Rheault also notched six RBIs, while also striking out 12 batters and allowing one hit in the win.

Saturday's championship was familiar in two regards; namely, the teams playing. Fargo North and West Fargo squared off as they've done so many times before at the state level.

This time, the Packers proved their worth with a 9-0 thumping that could be telling of things to come this weekend.

Brittany Rheault echoed the finesse of the night before with more pitching perfection, striking out eight Spartans in five innings before being replaced by Woodbury and, eventually, Greenlund.

And Andel hit her second homer of the year.

On Thursday, the Packers take their first step toward another state victory by meeting West No. 4 Bismarck at approximately 6 p.m. in the opening round of the state tournament at Elmwood Park in West Fargo.