Big bat at bottom

Alex Mack was sincere in saying he finds batting ninth fun.

The Minot High School sophomore is a first-year varsity player and has already established himself as one of the Magicians’ more consistent batters despite batting last.

“It’s like a second leadoff when I’m there cause I can get productive at-bats and just move people around,” Mack said.

Through Saturday’s sweep of Bismarck Century, the center fielder was tied with classmate Grant Larson for third on the team with 15 RBIs.

Mack came through in a variety of situations to help MHS (14-2 overall, 12-2 West Region) beat the Patriots twice.

“He’s swinging a very nice bat in the nine spot,” MHS coach Pete Stenberg said. “Second leadoff is what we’re looking at and he’s setting the table for us and, in fact, he’s been picking up some RBIs too.”

Mack reached base in four of his eight at-bats against Century and advanced runners on six occasions. In game two, a 17-11 MHS win, Mack had three RBIs while only reaching base once.

In his first at-bat, he was thrown out on a bunt that advanced two runners. Both players scored later in the inning. He moved another runner to third on a pop fly in his second at-bat and drew a walk with the bases loaded in his third plate appearance. Mack finished the game with a two-RBI single, but was thrown out at second trying to advance on a throw.

“Very happy with what he’s doing right now,” Stenberg said. “He’s a first-year varsity player and he’s shown a lot of maturity with that and he’s stepped right into a full-time starting role as a first-time letterwinner, so he’s done a very nice job for us.”

Region tennis

tourney starts today

No. 3 seed Minot High School will meet No. 6 Jamestown in the first round of the West Region girls tennis team tournament this morning.

The Majettes (8-4 overall, 5-2 region) beat the Blue Jays (2-5, 2-6) in the regular season, dropping only one match in an 8-1 rout.

“I think our No. 1 goal is just making the state tournament and I think there’s six teams that have a shot. To win that first match really puts you in the driver seat to get in that state tournament, so we’ll stress that and go from there.”

Teams will switch to a 3-2 format in the tournament. For the individual singles and doubles portions of the tournament, DeLorme will put his top four players in the two doubles matches. Juniors Ban Dodin and Katie Wilson will play together, as will senior Megan Sherven and seventh-grader Jenna Coggins.

“Both are very, very solid doubles teams,” DeLorme said. “I’m not even sure if one is clearly better than the other on our team, so I think they both have a chance of being in the finals, if not winning it.”

Senior Cally Sessions, junior Kendra Collins and sophomore Latasha Klein will play singles. The winner of MHS’s first-round team matchup will face the winner of No. 2 Bismarck Century (7-2, 6-1) and No. 7 Dickinson (3-6, 1-6). On the other side of the bracket No. 1 Bismarck St. Mary’s (8-0, 7-0) faces No. 8 Mandan (0-7, 0-7) and No. 4 Williston plays No. 5 Bismarck High.

“I think St. Mary’s is the clear favorite,” DeLorme said. “I think on the right day there are teams that can make them work, but going into the tournament they’re the team to beat.”