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051518-spt-legacy-softball

Dickinson's Kennedy Kuntz, left, slides safely into second base as Taylor Gerving (5) of Legacy gathers the ball into her glove during Monday's softball game at the Sanford Sports Complex in Bismarck.

MIKE MCCLEARY, TRIBUNE

 Dickinson is riding a 16-game softball winning streak, and not many of those games have been nail-biters.

 No. 16 was a tense affair, though, misleading though the score may be.

 It took the Midgets an extra inning to grind out a 7-2 victory over Legacy in the second game of a Monday doubleheader at the Sanford Sports Complex.

 After polishing off Legacy 7-2 in the first game, Dickinson found itself trailing 1-0 going into the seventh inning of the second game. The Midgets had but two hits against Sabers pitcher Casey Lovsness, who was working on a shutout.

 However, winning teams know how to win, and Dickinson found a way.

  An infield hit, a wild pitch and a passed ball put Kamryn Kuntz on third base with the potential tying run with one out. Bailey Jahner followed with a suicide squeeze bunt that scored Kuntz. And when Legacy's bunt coverage broke down, Jahner raced all the way to second.

 Ali Lafond grounded a single to right field, scoring Jahner with the go-ahead run.

Legacy's Ellie Miller singled and scored on Thomas' sacrifice fly to make it 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh. The Sabers subsequently loaded the bases with two out, but couldn't push the game-winner across.

 Dickinson found the range against Lovsness, a junior right-hander, in the eighth. Six of the first seven batters reached base, four on hits, one via a walk and one on an error. Taya Hopfauf contributed an RBI single to the rally, and Lafond singled home two runs.

 At that point, Lovsness was replaced by Tori Olson, who had gone the distance in the first game. Olson surrendered a two-run single to Mataya Mortensen before retiring the side.

 Macee Van Vleet singled in the bottom of the eighth, but Amber Sickler, pitching in relief, faced only four hitters while finishing off the win.

 Lafond, a sophomore second baseman, rapped four hits and knocked in four runs in the doubleheader. She said the second-game dogfight couldn't help but make the Midgets a better team.

 "Good teams fight to the end. They don't give up," she said.

 "Whenever we struggle and overcome it, it gives us confidence ... and we know we have each others' back," she added.

  Lafond said the Midgets scuffled offensively in the second game because Lovsness represented a significant change from what Olson presented in the first contest.

 "It was just a speed difference. We had to adjust to it. We figured it out at the right time," Lafond said. "We didn't have any patience. ... It's very frustrating when you can't hit the ball. It's a relief our defense played so well."

 With the hard-fought win, Dickinson improved to 17-1, 13-1 in the West Region. Legacy dipped to 5-18, 3-13 in the region, with six straight setbacks.

 "This was a novelty for us to come back and fight at the end. It was a big game-changer," Lafond said.

 Sickler went the distance in the first game, limiting Legacy to six hits, two of them solo home runs by Whitney Thomas. Dickinson did all of its damage in the first two innings. Kamryn Kuntz drilled a two-run double in a four-run first inning, and Taya Hopfauf socked a two-run home run in a three-run second.

 Legacy co-coach Kasandra Cariveau said it was encouraging to see the Sabers play well in the second game against the Region-leading Midgets.

 "They're a finely-oiled machine, but we came to battle today," said Cariveau, who shares LHS coaching duties with Paige Jangula. "We're super-proud that we played so tough against a good team."

 Dickinson returns to action today, playing host to Jamestown. Legacy gets two days off before visiting Williston on Thursday.

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Sports Reporter