BY JOHN DUBOIS
It’s not unusual to face an opponent three times in a season, but it is unusual for those three games to happen in one week.
Freshman Phoenix LaCombe made the third meeting in the last seven days between the Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils and the Oakwood Comets a special one — tossing a five inning no-hitter to lead the fourth-seeded and host Blue Devils to an 11-0 win over the fifth-seeded Comets in IHSA Class 2A regional softball action.
Supported by a strong defensive effort and a fast start at the plate by the Blue Devils offense, LaCombe struck out four and walked two and faced nineteen batters.
Phoenix has been throwing the ball well,” said Bismarck-Henning coach Mike Stephens. “She stayed around the strike zone and kept the ball low.”
The Blue Devils set the tone defensively in the top of the first inning with three difficult chances all resulting in outs going from shortstop Lindsey Andrews to first basemen Lanie Andrews.
“We are a very capable team defensively and we have been playing better the last week to 10 days,” Stephens said. “Lindsey is a freshman who has done a great job at shortstop and Lanie has also done a great job moving over to first base. We have strong senior leadership defensively with Lexi Ballard, who made a very nice play in center, Lauren McKenzie at third, and Ashlee Ronto at second.”
Oakwood coach Jesse Johnson was pleased with the contact his team made.
“We made contact and hit the ball well, but it was always right at someone,” he said. “It was encouraging that we weren’t mowed down offensively, and we obviously didn’t set out to have a result like this, but we did the best we could. The bottom line was Bismarck played a good game and we didn’t.”
The Blue Devils came out swinging from the first pitch. Lindsey Andrews led off with a single and scored two batters later and following a sacrifice fly from Lanie Andrews, the score was quickly 2-0. McKenzie would score on a wild pitch and a run scoring single from Masyn Clough made the score 4-0.
Freshman Ella Nelson would drive in two with a single to left and a final run would score on an error to make the score 7-0 after one inning. Bismarck-Henning batted around and sent 12 batters to the plate.
“We came out and hit the ball tonight,” Stephens said. “We also were very aggressive on the bases.”
The Blue Devils would add their final four runs in the third with Lindsey and Lanie Andrews each driving in a run. The Comets had their best chance to score in the fourth stranding a runner at third.
Oakwood ends its season with a record of 3-21.
“The saddest thing about this game is that we have to tell our seniors goodbye,” said Johnson. “Katey Kirkpatrick and Nikki Weyah have each been with us for four years, and Kaylee Moreman and Breanna Wright have for three years. They have been a fun bunch of players to work with and a real joy to coach. They are all great people and I hope our younger players have taken advantage of the opportunity to learn from them.”
The Blue Devils move to 11-10 overall and will face the top seeded St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans at 4:30 p.m. today.
“The girls took it upon themselves and played really well today,” said Stephens. “We know we are going to have play really well again to have a chance to beat St. Joseph and we are anxious to give it a shot.”