Colman’s gem helps Sioux claim West Region title

Westhope-Newburg-Bottineau’s softball team is hopeful its celebration Tuesday at South Hill Complex is simply a preview of what’s to come in a week and a half at the same venue.

Junior pitcher Sam Colman turned in a one-hitter, classmate Lauren Mach drilled a two-run homer and the Sioux rolled past Watford City 13-0 in five innings to win the Class B West Region tournament.

“The region championship is nice, but our goal all year was to win the whole thing (the state tournament),” W-N-B coach Layne Fluhrer said. “Now we put ourselves in a position to do that. We’re going to do everything we can to do that.”

The Class B state tournament, hosted at South Hill Complex, begins May 29. W-N-B, Watford City and Stanley own the West Region’s Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds, respectively. Eleven teams comprise the East Region – four more than the West Region – which receives five state tourney bids.

The Wolves beat Stanley 6-5 earlier on Tuesday to reach the region title game.

The Sioux (12-7) scored in all five innings, including a six-run third that broke the game open.

“It definitely wasn’t our day,” Wolves coach Devin Langerud said. “I think we kind of got wore out by that Stanley game, to tell you the truth. We worked pretty hard at that and I think we ran out of steam.”

They also ran into Colman, who brushed off an elbow injury to start in the circle. The right-hander retired seven straight batters to end the game, allowed two baserunners in all – by first-inning single and third-inning error – and struck out five.

“I’ve been taught to fight through the pain and I’ve been working for this for so long, an elbow injury wasn’t going to stop me,” Colman said.

Added Fluhrer: “She’s got six pitches she throws and can throw them all for strikes. When she gets rolling, she makes it very difficult for them to hit.”

W-N-B took advantage of Watford City senior pitcher Tori Hopkins’ early control issues. The Sioux’s first three batters reached base via hit-by-pitch and two walks. They scored two runs on no hits in the first and tacked on a run on two hits in the second before putting the game out of reach.

Colman led off the top of the third with a single to left and Mach followed with a long ball to center field to stretch W-N-B’s lead to 5-0. Maddy Lodoen, Paige Vad, Ashlyn Huber and Jacie Ceglowski also scored in the frame, helping to chase Hopkins after 2 2/3 innings.

“They jumped on us and we just never got back on that horse,” Langerud said.

Mach went 2-for-4 with a double and a team-high four RBIs. Lodoen, Huber and Colman each collected two hits and reached base three times. Lodoen recorded three RBIs, Colman scored three times and Huber crossed home plate twice.

In Class B softball’s third year of existence, the West Region is still searching for its first state champion. W-N-B begins its quest to make history against East Region No. 4 seed Grafton at noon on May 29.

“We fought through adversity all year,” Fluhrer said. “It’s kind of been a roller coaster, but we’re playing the best we’ve played all year and that’s where you want to do it – at the end of the season.”

Stanley takes on East Region runner-up Kindred-Richland 35 minutes after the completion of W-N-B’s game. Watford City plays 2012 state champion and 2013 runner-up Enderlin-Maple Valley, the East Region’s third seed, at approximately 7 p.m.

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.