Home opener moved to Sioux Falls, S.D. due to inclement weather
Despite dropping their first Summit League contest of the season, the North Dakota State softball team capped off their three-game series against Western Illinois with a pair of wins to improve to 5-1 in league play. The Herd have now won 11 of their last 13 games and will take on the South Dakota Coyotes (16-15) who are a perfect 5-0 against Summit League competition.
While each of those five wins has come against the bottom two teams in the league, North Dakota and Kansas City, the Coyotes did so by large margins of victory. In those games, South Dakota outscored their opponents 34-6. Last season in Vermillion, the Coyotes took two out of three games from the Bison and did so by defeating their ace Paige Vargas twice.
Picking up the win in a complete game effort for the Coyotes in game one of that series was pitcher Clara Edwards. Edwards did get a little help as the Coyotes scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh after trailing 4-2 to claim the win.
Edwards, a 2nd-team all-league performer last season as a true freshman, leads the Summit League in innings pitched this year with 108 innings. Her 2.59 ERA and 13 complete games have proved she’s a tough matchup for her opponent as does her fellow pitching teammate Kori Wedeking, who recently was awarded TicketSmarter Summit League Softball Peak Pitcher of the Week. In 10 innings against Kansas City, the junior went 2-0 while allowing zero earned runs and striking out eight batters.
Also, attaining Summit League Peak Performer of the Week were Edwards’ and Wedeking’s teammate Aleesia Sainz. The senior, who achieved 1st-team all-league honors in 2022, hit .556 and drove in eight runs in the series against Kansas City. The third baseman, also named a Summit League Preseason Player to Watch, is hitting .282 with 4 home runs and 21 RBIs on the season.
Vargas and Lainey Lyle will certainly have their hands full with Sainz and the rest of the Coyotes, but they have been on a tear themselves. In her last 27.1 innings, Vargas possesses an ERA of just 1.28, and that includes allowing five earned runs last week against Western Illinois. As for Lyle, she has not allowed an earned run in her last 16 innings and has an ERA of just 1.57 since February 26. The team’s 2.80 ERA and .258 opponent batting average each rank in the top three amongst Summit League teams.
The Bison offense also leads the league in many other statistics as well. NDSU has the highest batting average (.271), runs scored (147), RBIs (136), and are top-two in doubles (45) and home runs (21). Leading the way is infielder Carley Goetschius, who leads both the team and the league in many categories including batting average (.419), OPS (1.131), RBIs (29), runs (28), and doubles (12) and second in home runs with five.
Other impactful players like Anjolee Aguilar-Beaucage, Reanna Rudd, Bella Dean, and Kaylee Moore have also played well as of late. Aguilar-Beaucage is batting .419 in her last 9 games while Rudd is hitting .412 with 7 extra-base hits in her last 13 games.
Meanwhile, freshman infielder Bella Dean, who leads the Summit League in home runs with six, is batting .300 (6-20) in just six Summit League games with four of those hits being home runs. Dean, while batting in the cleanup spot, has also begun playing shortstop as well. Lastly, catcher Kaylee Moore, who had never recorded more than seven hits in a season prior to 2023, is also hitting over .300 at .306 and is 5 for 12 over the course of her last four games.
Unfortunately for North Dakota State (21-12), due to the recent storm impacting the Fargo area, the series against the Coyotes has been moved to Sioux Falls, S.D. The originally scheduled home opener will now be held at Bowden Field, home of Augustana University. The Coyotes and Bison will start the series on Friday at 4 p.m. and finish with a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday.