Sioux rout Grafton

Before they knew it, the Westhope-Newburg-Bottineau Sioux found themselves in a six-run hole. That was half an inning into their softball program’s first Class B state tournament appearance.

Then they went down in order in the bottom of the first.

But don’t’ fret, the Sioux were simply waiting for their “big inning,” W-N-B coach Layne Fluhrer said.

In an 18-8, six-inning victory over Grafton on Thursday at South Hill Complex, W-N-B remained patient at the plate in the 35-mph winds and, in turn, produced a pair of huge innings.

The Sioux (13-7), the West Region’s top seed, scored six runs in the fourth to grab their first lead of the game at 9-8, then tacked on eight more in the fifth. They ended the game with a run with one out in the sixth.

“We got down 6-0, but we’ve been there before this year,” Fluhrer said. “Our girls are a mature group that have played a lot of softball now. They knew that if they could get their bats going, they could answer back in any inning. We just kept chipping away until we got our big inning and that was the difference maker.”

W-N-B takes on East Region No. 2 seed Kindred-Richland at noon today at South Hill Complex’s KC Diamond. The Vikings beat Stanley 13-3 in five innings in the quarterfinals. The Sioux have not played Kindred-Richland in their program’s three-year history.

Early on against Grafton, W-N-B displayed its nerves and state tournament inexperience. The Spoilers (9-11) used three hits – including a three-run double by Betsy Jiskra – and an error to seize the first half-dozen runs.

“Sam (Colman) was leaving some pitches up because the wind was holding it up,” Fluhrer said. “She made an adjustment in the second inning and after that she neutralized their offense.”

Colman (10-2), a junior right-hander, didn’t allow an earned run the rest of the way. She gave up five earned on eight hits and one walk and struck out nine.

She said after the first inning, Fluhrer delivered some calming advice.

“Our coach really motivated us to keep it going,” Colman said. “All of us kind of looked at each other like, ‘Yeah, we can do this. This is our time.’ We were pretty confident.”

The Sioux closed the game with 15 unanswered runs off Grafton’s Megan Osowski – their third straight game with 13 or more runs.

Colman was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs while juniors Lauren Mach and Sydney Artnzen and sophomore Paige Vad each had two hits.

“The first two innings we just had to get the nerves out of the way,” Fluhrer said. “We’re an offensive team – we like to hit. One through 9, they know they all can hit. Put the bat on the ball and they know they can drive it. We were able to do that.”

The Sioux, winners of five straight, are primed to make the program’s first state semifinal appearance.

“It’s amazing. It’s more than words can express,” Colman said. “We have two more games left until we reach our goal (a state title) and we hope to get there.”

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