VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- Top-seeded and host Valley City State University improved to 51-3 on the season after sweeping Bellevue University on Saturday to take the 2019 North Star Athletic Association Tournament title at the VCSU Softball Complex. VCSU won by scores of 3-2 and 7-0 to earn an automatic berth into the NAIA National Tournament.
The Bruins (44-18) will await word of their post-season fate when the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round qualifiers are announced on Monday.
Game 1: Valley City State 3, Bellevue 2
The Bruins produced a pair of solo homers but it wasn't enough as VCSU pulled out the 3-2 victory in the opener. Emily Smith allowed just one other hit in the contest while striking out 12 Bruins to record her 31st victory of the season.
The loss snapped the Bruins' 14-game winning streak and halted Erin Sharpe's 21-game hitting streak.
Smith also went 3-for-3 at the plate with an RBI to lead the Viking offense.
An RBI triple to deep left by Smith and a sacrifice fly to center by Marissa Hawkins gave the Vikings an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Ellie Bliemeister led off the second inning with a solo homer over the center field fence to cut the lead to 2-1.
Jayme Menard drilled an RBI double to deep right field to extend the VCSU lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the second.
BU starter Monique Ashley got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third, inducing a ground out to end the threat.
Pinch hitter Emily Rochford launched a solo homer to left field in the top of the seventh to slice the Viking advantage to 3-2. Smith then retired the final two batters of the inning to secure the one-run victory for the Vikings.
Ashley (19-8) suffered the loss, allowing six hits and three earned runs with one walk and one strikeout in six innings of work.
Game 2: Valley City State 7, Bellevue 0
The Vikings used a five-run fourth inning and the quality pitching of Emilee Wilson to take the nightcap, 7-0, and secure the NSAA Tournament title.
VCSU pounded out 11 hits in the victory, while Wilson limited the Bruins to six hits as BU threatened to score in just one inning.
An RBI double to left field by Autumn Perry and a run-scoring single to left by Joelle Aiello gave the Vikings a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second frame.
The Vikings exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by a solo homer to left by Tatum Lundin, an RBI triple to right by Voni Culp, a run-scoring single to shallow center by Smith, and a two-run double to left-center by Marissa Hawkins, pushing the VCSU edge to 7-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
The Bruins led off the sixth inning with consecutive singles by Sharpe, Ashley Young, and Kaitlyn Kinman to load the bases with no outs. However, Wilson retired the next three batters to end the threat, keeping the score at 7-0 heading into the seventh.
Wilson improved to 19-1 on the season, scattering six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in six innings in the circle.
Brieanna Brock (13-3) was tagged with the loss, allowing two runs on five hits with one walk and no strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings of work.