The first Class B title game was played in 2012 with Enderlin/Maple Valley knocking off Central Cass. Since then, Kindred-Richland has 3 state titles and Central Cass has 4, including two in a row. In total, every Class B champion has come from the East Region and specifically Sub-Region 1. Can they keep that momentum going in 2020?
Central Cass beat Kindred-Richland 6-2 in the 2019 title game, giving the Squirrels a fourth overall title. It was their first title game win against the Vikings in three tries. They graduated some talent, no doubt. Payton Richter and Lexi Buhr were both all-stars in 2019 and were very important players in the 2018 & 2019 title runs.
As the saying goes, however, the Squirrels don't rebuild, they reload. Kaitlyn Houle will step in as one of two primary pitchers in 2020. She got plenty of pitching experience last year, tossing a perfect game against Northern Cass. Behind the plate, Isabelle Linnard has been a standout for what seems like half a decade. Now, it's her turn to take center stage for Central Cass.
Scott Kost has a field named after him and has led Central Cass to the state title game in every season except for one.
It was a surprise to see Kindred-Richland in the 2019 state title game based on last season alone. Based on program history, it should have come as no surprise. The Vikings had 3 state title and have played in four state title games. Last year's team matured throughout the season and turned a team that was winning about half their games into a team who made a series run in late May.
The good news for Sam Brandt and company would be that many of the key cogs from the 2019 team return for a 2020 campaign. Abby McDonald was awesome in the circle in the postseason. She's back. Madi Olien was a difference maker. She's back. That's a pretty talented battery to start with.
Much like at Central Cass, winning is a tradition for Kindred-Richland. it would be no surprise if they were state title contenders in 2020.
It was there for the taking for the Burros in the 2019 state semi-final against Central Cass. Hillsboro-Central Valley had a 1 run lead with 1 out to get, but it was Central Cass that rallied to win in walk-off fashion. You'd imagine that game accomplished two things: allowed H-CV to believe they belong in the title picture and put a burning fire in their belly for 2020.
Talent returns to the Burros, who have always been competitive under head coach Cory Erickson. Noella Kritzberger is a talented hurler who is developing into a really nice player. She will enter her junior season. Saige Forseth is back for her senior campaign. Both Forseth and Kritzberger bring back plenty of pitching experience and Kaitlin Ensign returns on the other side of the battery.
There is no doubt the Burros will be competitive in 2020.
The Thompson Tommies have kicked out some very impressive regular seasons in the past five years. They just haven't delivered quick the way they would have liked the past couple of state tournaments. Thompson is a town that has produced some incredible athletic teams over the past few years in both boys and girls sports.
Macy Jordheim returns in the circle for Thompson and there is talent all around her. The biggest question other than when will this season start for Thompson is can they stay healthy. If they can, they'll definitely be a threat in the East.
Northern Cass returns a lot where it matters more - in the circle. Annika Bjerke was an all-state player last year and Brooke Degerness has been pitching at the varsity level since 8th grade and tossed the school's first no-hitter as a freshman.
Strong seasons from the likes of Kassie Pachak, Allie Slinger, Abby Richman and others would go a long way toward getting the Jaguars back into the state tournament after missing out on the region tournament in 2019.
Some of the young talent for Mike Loll's Pirates softball club is now experienced talent. Take senior catcher Maxine Ebel, who is committed to play college ball at North Dakota State College of Science. Kya Mauch is a player to watch state-wide. The talent is there and the results seem to improve every year for this team.
The Patriots return a very experiences bunch in 2020 under the leadership of Tim Spurgeon. When healthy, Ellie Bergstrom is a very solid pitcher. She helped lead her team to state as a freshman. Dallas Jorgensen and Hannah Ust have had long, productive careers. The trio of Bergstrom, Jorgensen and Ust have been instrumental in taking MPCG from near the bottom of the pack, to an annual state contender.
This group played a ton of softball together this summer. It will be interesting to see how far that extra experience can take them.
Isabelle Linnard has been a steady catcher for Central Cass for many years now. She belts extra base hits like they are going out of style. It has become very common for Central Cass to have a senior athlete or two that rules the circuit. In 2020, even with such a strong senior class in the region, expect it to be Linnard.
1. Central Cass
3. Hillsboro-Central Valley
4. Northern Cass
5. Hankinson Co-op
6. Enderlin/Maple Valley
4. Pembina County North
5. Dakota Prairie
Central Cass - 67%
Kindred-Richland - 16%
Hillsboro-Central Valley - 11%
Other - 6%