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Rugby 14U softball opens season in Fessenden

By Sue Sitter - | Jun 26, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Rugby 14U batter Reese Gullickson readies her bat for a pitch from Fessenden’s Braelyn Kittleson

Rugby’s 14U softball team traveled to Wells County June 16 to face Fessenden’s 14U girls on their home diamond.

But unlike Rugby High School’s JV and varsity teams, the 14U recreation league team won’t have to play every season game away from home.

“We’re going to have some home games. We’ll be able to play on diamond 3 (at the Rugby Recreation Complex),” Rugby Coach Miriah Yoder said. “They’re putting dugouts in diamond 3, so it’s playable for summer ball, which is awesome, so we don’t have to travel so much.”

The game provided a learning experience for Rugby’s team, some of whom hadn’t played softball before this year.

Rugby’s team battled for five innings against Fessenden, notching a 14-9 loss in the first game of the season.

“We did a lot of good things,” Yoder noted. “We hit the ball; we threw the ball. We had a lot of girls in different positions they had never played. We have six girls that are 13 and 14. The rest are nine to 12 year olds, so we have a really young group. Just giving them the versatility to get them to play as many spots as possible is important.”

Pitchers on both sides worked on their skills finding the strike zone. Rugby’s players saw five runs in their first time at bat, all from walks and pitching errors.

As Rugby worked to find their footing in the field, Fessenden’s Aubrey Bush and Jaseth Filler saw two RBIs. Three more walks tied up the inning 5-5.

Fessenden’s fielders found their footing in the second inning, allowing only two more Rugby runs.

Ebene Heilman started the bottom of the second inning with a triple for Fessenden, aided by throwing errors from Rugby. Abby Lown followed, batting in two.

Rugby recovered with a double play when pitcher Tailyr Bush caught a line drive in her glove and threw to second base player Addison Dosch, who tagged a runner out.

Fessenden added three runs to their total and ended the second inning with an 8-7 lead.

Fessenden’s pitching and fielding stood firm when Rugby stepped to the plate, preventing any more runs from them in the third inning.

With two runners on base from a walk and a double on errors, Heilman batted one in for Fessenden. Another RBI by Lown gave Fessenden a 10-7 lead. Three more RBIs would follow. The fourth inning began with a 13-7 Fessenden lead.

Rugby still struggled to connect with the ball as Braelyn Kittleson delivered strikes across the plate. Although Brooklyn Hager walked to first for Rugby and advanced to third on a steal and ground out, she was left stranded.

The hits continued for Fessenden on their turn at bat. The fifth inning began with Fessenden in the lead 14-7.

Rugby batters trained their eyes on the ball, letting imperfect pitches go by. Livvy Johnson walked, advancing to second, then third on a wild pitch. Tallie Dosch walked next, then Callie Oscarson. When Kittleson walked Hager, an eighth run crossed the plate for Rugby. Addison Dosch stepped into the batter’s box next, batting in Rugby’s ninth and final run for the game.

Yoder said she was happy to see her older players encourage the younger members of the team. Yoder said 14U players coached the 12U team, who played the first game of the afternoon.

“Today, my assistant coach wasn’t here, so I asked my older girls to step up and help as first base coach for the younger girls,” Yoder said, referring to Assistant Coach Brooke Anderson, who plays softball for Rugby High’s varsity team. “That’s just what you need to do. The older girls realize they have some knowledge to pass onto the younger girls.”

“That’s what you want as a summer program, to get them ready,” Yoder said. “Like I said, this is our first game for our younger girls. The older ones played last year, but it’s still new. I need to remind some of them of those things. There’s a lot to remember and softball has lots of rules to know.”

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