The last trip to Miles, Mont., didn't go quite as planned for the Mystics.
After a 32-4 regular season, Bismarck State College went 2-2 at the Mon-Dak Conference tournament. Still, the two wins were enough to clinch a spot in the four-team Region XIII tournament, which starts today.
Seeded fourth, the Mystics (34-6) face Miles Community College (33-19) today at 2 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament. The opener features second-seeded Williston State College (32-13) and No. 3 seed Dakota County Technical College (12-14) of Rosemount, Minn.
The tournament winner hosts the North Plains District B playoff May 20-21.
"Everything we want to accomplish is still in front of us," BSC head coach Michael Keeran said. "Last weekend was one of those where things didn't go our way. Whether it was umpiring, a few bad bounces, there was just some bad luck and that happens sometimes.
"We got past it, we're qualified for regionals, so it's all still in our hands."
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The Mystics will send ace Carter Rost to the mound today against the Pioneers. The Wichita State-bound Rost is 7-1 with a 1.46 earned run average in 55 2/3 innings.
"We feel really confident when Carter's out there," Keeran said.
The Mystics will be a little short-handed in the opening game of the tournament. Due to a home-plate incident in the game against Dawson at the Mon-Dak tournament, a handful of players got two-game bans for leaving the dugout.
"I liked how our guys handled it, honestly," Keeran said. "There's no gray area with the rule. It happened and we've moved on. We've always had that next-man up mentality. We have guys on our bench that would start for a lot of teams, so we just need them to step in and play up to their abilities and we'll be fine."
Scoring runs has never been an issue for the Mystics, regardless of who's in the lineup. BSC ranks No. 1 at the NJCAA Division II level in runs per game at 10.875.
Kyle Leapaldt has the best batting average in the country at .516. Mike Hallquist (.486), Nash Crowell (.480) and Logan Grant (.463) and Jace Dew (.462) all rank in the top 15 in the country.
Hitting was not the issue last weekend, run prevention was. The Mystics allowed 31 runs in four games.
"We need to pitch it better," Keeran said. "We've had good depth on the mound all season, things just kind of got away from us last weekend with some of the arms that haven't pitched as much. We still have confidence in all of our guys. In tournaments, pitching depth is key obviously and we just need to be a little better than we were last weekend."
The Mystics have lost consecutive games just once all season, making it hard to pick against the regular season Mon-Dak champs.
"This group is pretty resilient. They weren't happy with what happened last weekend, but sometimes you just gotta turn the page and move on," Keeran said. "The guys are ready to go. I expect us to play well."
Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org