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College Softball: Ridgewater heading to nationals

WILLMAR -- In a spring seldom fit for outdoor sports, the Lady Warriors looked quite comfortable once again.

Doing what they do best -- socking the cover off the ball -- Ridgewater College thumped Anoka-Ramsey 8-0 in a five-inning game to win the school's fifth Region 13A championship in seven years on Friday afternoon under heavy overcast and a chilly north wind at the college field.

At least it didn't rain as it did much of Thursday's opening rounds.

"It was so much rain and snow and cold but a good team is going to keep its focus in the bitter stuff while others don't handle it so well," said All-America shortstop Emily Roelike after the celebration. "Playing hard in any type of weather shows your character."

Somehow the Lady Warriors managed to get in over three dozen games in a soggy spring.

Counting a visit to Florida in early March, they will take a 36-8 mark to the NJCAA Division III Tournament Thursday-Saturday in Rochester. It's the first national trip for the Lady Warriors since 2008.

The Lady Warriors beat the same Golden Rams squad they subdued in two games for the MCAC state title last weekend in Cloquet.

No. 2-seed Anoka-Ramsey survived the elimination bracket by beating unseeded Minnesota West in a 2½-hour game 23-18, a game featuring 49 hits.

"We felt we had this tournament from the start," said Roelike, who will play softball next year at Minnesota State, Moorhead. "We'd played all these teams and beat them all. It gave us a lot of confidence."

Roelike drove the first pitch she saw from Alex Conley to the left-center gap for a double to start the lower half of the first. Brandi Bodin followed with a deep single to bring in Roelike.

That would have been enough for Andrea Krause. The freshman pitcher limited the Golden Rams, who had 28 hits in the first game Friday, to three hits. She didn't walk a batter and fanned eight.

The hitters kept pounding the ball. Samantha Cunningham, batting ninth, struck an RBI double in the second to plate Amanda Horst, who had singled. Aimee Johnson, who returned to the line-up Thursday by hitting a home run, doubled in a run in the third for a 3-0 lead. The third baseman was ordered by her doctor to take two weeks off after an appendectomy.

Roelike's second double drove in a run to make it 6-0 in the fourth.

In the bottom of the fifth, consecutive hits by Johnson, Bevin Williams, Horst and Jen Storck ended the game. Storck's single plated Williams from third and ignited the celebration.

No one was more emotional than Bodin, who like Roelike and Johnson, played on the Lady Warriors' national champion volleyball team last fall.

"Softball has always been my favorite," she said. "It's an incredible feeling. We knew we had a good team and we've played well. We have so much trust in one another and a lot of fire."

Ridgewater 8, Anoka-Ramsey 0

Anoka-Ramsey 000 00 -- 0 3 3

Ridgewater 111 32 -- 8 11 0

HITTING - Anoka-Ramsey: Alex Thunborg 1-for-2, 2b; Andi Schoephoerster 1-for-2; Cassey Nikolaus 1-for-2 ... Ridgewater: Emily Roelike 2-for-3, 2 2b's, 2 runs; Brandi Bodin 1-for-3, rbi; Aimee Johnson 2-for-3, 2b, rbi; Bevin Williams 1-for-3, 2b, rbi; Amanda Horst 2-for-3, Jen Storck 2-for-3, rbi; Samantha Cunningham 1-for-2, 2b, rbi

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Anoka-Ramsey: Alex Conley (L) 4-11-8-5-0-0 ... Ridgewater: Andrea Krause (W) 5-3-0-0-0-8

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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