On Thursday, the MSUM Dragons played its final home games of the season, and coincidently its first on Alex Nemzek Field.
The Northern State Wolves rode two early leads to two victories over the Dragons in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader.
Northern State won the first game 6-0. Leading the Wolves was pitcher Jamie Fisher. Through Friday, Fisher ranks first in the NSIC in innings pitched with 207 and wins with 22. She also ranks fourth in strikeouts (100).
Senior Dragons catcher Megan Asham said the team knew it would be tough to hit arguably the best pitcher in the NSIC.
“She’s got a lot of movement, a little bit of speed to her too,” Asham said. “Their defense was fabulous. They didn’t have an error. We were putting the ball in play but not putting it where we needed to.”
Fisher wasn’t overpowering the Dragons at the plate but did mix up her location strategically all game.
In the first inning, the Wolves plated a run on a Dragons error. Dragons pitcher Becky Berth limited the damage to just the one run. However, Berth couldn’t keep the Wolves off the board in the second. Courtney Sjerven drove in two runs on a two-out double to give Northern State a 3-0 lead.
The Wolves struck again with two outs in the sixth. Wolves Natalie Gabbert delivered the dagger as she drove home two runs. Sjerven followed with a double of her own, scoring Gabbert. The six run lead was plenty for Fisher as she consistently pounded the outside corner of the plate, inducing weak ground balls from Dragon hitters.
“Going into it we knew she moves the ball around a lot and keeps batters off-balance,” Dragons head coach Kelsey Fehl said. “Our goal was just to make solid contact and put the ball in play. We didn’t do a very good job at that but as the game went on our at-bats got better.”
The Wolves jumped out to an early lead again in Game 2.
Fisher, playing as the designated hitter after winning the first game on the mound, doubled to right to drive in Kennedy Thompson who scored unearned.
Jenna Helgeson drove in Thompson before inning’s end, giving Northern State a 2-0 lead.
In the second inning, the Wolves plated two more runs. Like the first, an unearned run came across to score.
“That’s kind of been one of our downfalls all season, having one error snowball into a couple more,” Fehl said. “You just have to find a way to get better even with your practice situations.”
Freshman outfielder Kylie Lange got MSUM on the board with an RBI single in the fourth. It was all the Dragons could muster as the Wolves continued to pile on the runs, eventually winning 12-1 in six innings.
After hitting many weak grounders against Fisher in Game 1, the Dragons grinded out many of their at-bats in the second game. Asham, Lexie Kennedy and Taylor Kelenic extended their at-bats.
Kelenic fouled off four consecutive pitches before collecting a base hit up the middle in the second inning of the second game.
As a whole the Dragons proved to be tough outs, something that doesn’t show up in the box score.
“We had a lot of girls who hadn’t had a lot of at-bats (this season) play this game,” Asham said. “Taylor Kelenic came in had a huge hit for us and she hasn’t had a lot of at-bats.”