Breakout games: Fournier snaps skid, keys MSU’s sweep of Bemidji State

The way Stacy Fournier hit the ball Wednesday, opposing teams may reconsider pitching around Minot State University sluggers Jen Dixon and Tiffany Friesen to get to her.

That’s the treatment Fournier received during a three-game, 0-for-11 slump, but that skid was ended emphatically against Bemidji State University (Minn.) on a makeshift softball diamond at Herb Parker Stadium.

The junior from Langley, British Columbia, batted 4-for-6 with a home run, two walks and four RBIs during a pair of Minot State wins over BSU. MSU won game one 9-1 in six innings and game two 8-1 in seven.

“It felt good to finally see the ball well,” Fournier said. “I haven’t been for a long time so it felt good to feel like I was actually finally contributing to the team and maybe picking some people up that started struggling now.”

Fournier, a left-handed batter who hits in the Beavers’ No. 5 slot, drilled a two-run homer to the opposite field in the first inning of game one. In game two, she gave MSU another first-inning lead with a two-run double, also to left-center field.

“She was on everything,” MSU coach Bill Triplett said. “She was letting it get a little bit deeper and she was going the opposite way. Where she’s been struggling is on the inside corner and where they were pitching her was away, which is her strong point.”

Minot State (25-2 overall, 7-1 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) took advantage of 15 walks by Bemidji’s pitchers in game one, scoring nine runs on just five hits.

The offense was hardly necessary as MSU starter Mandy Greenberg (13-1) mowed down BSU’s lineup. Greenberg was removed after three perfect innings and struck out eight of the nine batters she faced. Dixon allowed a home run to Nicole Dupay in relief, but Bemidji (7-18, 1-7) managed just one run on two hits.

Friesen got the start in game two and surrendered one unearned run in six innings, striking out seven while allowing three hits. Dixon pitched a scoreless seventh inning to conclude the win.

MSU tallied nine hits in game two, with Fournier accounting for three and Katie Backes and Maribel Casillas getting two apiece.

Backes hit the team’s second homer of the day, causing a Bemidji outfielder to crash through the temporary fence set up in center field.

“(BSU pitcher Allie Duellman) threw me a meatball so I gave her a good swing and got it over,” Backes said. “I feel like as this season’s gone on, we’re all getting into our own grooves. Each batter’s hitting their balls, hitting the pitches that they should hit. I feel like we’re progressing really well as a team.”

With MSU winning both games comfortably, Triplett said his pitchers should have plenty left in the tank for doubleheaders this weekend at Upper Iowa and Winona State (Minn.).

“The good thing is we split up the innings … so we’re set up pretty well for the weekend,” Triplett said. “It’s a big weekend on the road for us. Those are two really, really good teams.”