Gathman hits walkoff in split

After missing four games while away on a school music trip, Minot High School junior Ashley Gathman was hoping to get back in a groove Friday.

Gathman was limited to pinch-running in a 10-9 loss to Bismarck Century in game one at South Hill Complex. She made her presence known in game two by driving in three runs, including one on a walk-off single to lift the Majettes to a 16-15 win.

“I saw girls on base and I knew that I needed to advance them in somehow and score a run,” Gathman said. “I felt ready. I felt like I prepared myself and it did help that the girls were there to back me up.”

Gathman’s simple approach was a theme in the second game, which didn’t count toward West Region standings. The Patriots (3-7 overall, 1-6 region) took a six-run lead through the third inning, but MHS scored six in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 10. Five Majettes (8-5, 7-5) hit RBI singles in the inning and Gathman had the sixth RBI on a groundout.

“I just told the girls, ‘Get up there and hit. Hit, hit, hit. That’s what we gotta do. We gotta get aggressive at the plate and hit,’ ” MHS coach Gerard Cederstrom said. “And, yeah, we were swinging a good bat. We kept hitting the ball hard and we got runs.”

MHS junior Lexi Benno hit the team’s first home run of the season in the fifth inning to drive in two and tie the score at 12. Both teams scored three runs in the sixth and MHS freshman pitcher Cassie Askvig caught a break in the seventh inning.

Century freshman Hannah Holtz led off with a single and the next batter was thrown out as Holtz advanced to second. A third Patriot hit a line drive to MHS senior shortstop Jessie Kongelf, who then lunged to tag Holtz for the inning-ending double play.

Minutes later, Gathman connected on the Majettes’ 19th hit of the game and junior catcher Tahnee Apland scored the winning run.

“We have worked a lot on hitting this year,” Gathman said. “Since we were inside for so long, that’s basically all we could do, for the most part, and it really shows. We are a very good hitting team.”

The Majettes scored three runs to rally in the sixth inning of game one, but didn’t reach base in the seventh inning as the Patriots held on for the region win. Century senior slugger Brianna Flynn hit her first home run of the year – a three-run shot – off Benno in the top of the fifth inning to give her team a 7-6 lead.

“She had two balls on me already, so I figured it’d be a strike, so if it was coming down the middle I was gonna swing at it and that’s what I did,” Flynn said.

Flynn finished 4-for-4 in the game with a home run, triple and four RBIs. Century sophomore Morgan Menge added a solo home run to lead off the sixth.

The Patriots finished second in the West Region in 2012, but struggled this season before notching their first region win Friday. Both teams committed seven errors through the two games.

“We’re just having trouble fielding the ball,” Century coach Kevin Zielger said, “but, hey, both teams came out, I guess, swinging the bats and that made it kind of an exciting two games here.”

MHS hosts Dickinson at 1 p.m. today.