Photos by Carrie Snyder/NDSU Athletics, Nicholas Nelson/NDSU Athletics, Derrick Tuskan/NDSU Athletics and Cory Erickson/NDSU Athletics
North Dakota State lost its first game of the Summit League tournament last season. The seven-time conference champs had to climb its way back through the losers bracket to reclaim the league crown. After thumping South Dakota and squeezing past Western Illinois in elimination games, NDSU faced No. 1 seeded IUPUI who had yet to lose a game during the tournament. NDSU needed two wins.
The Bison jumped on the Jaguars in the first inning behind junior right-fielder Bre Beatty’s one-run double. The floodgates were open and NDSU escorted five runs across home plate in the first frame. Beatty followed up with two more RBI doubles in the second and third inning. NDSU cruised to victory sending the championship tilt to a decisive Game 2. NDSU completed its run through the loser’s bracket after a 5-3 victory and were named champions of the Summit for the eighth time. Beatty was named to the All-Tournament team and Tournament MVP.
It was a second all-tournament team appearance for Beatty. The Las Vegas, Nevada, native is hitting .680 during her two appearances in the conference tournament. Her knack for shining brightly when it matters most isn’t an anomaly. The senior is simply the best hitter on the Bison softball team.
“If there are two things I want to be known for, it’s being a good teammate and being clutch,” Beatty said from her hotel in Los Angeles, California in March. The Bison are three games above .500, which is a five-win improvement from where they were 17 games into the 2017 season. Beatty leads the team in hitting by more than 150 points. “I want to be known as a clutch player that comes through when you need them to the most.”
Beatty’s proven her reliability. Earlier this season, the senior clubbed a walk-off double down the left field line to beat Cal State Fullerton in San Diego. The play and celebration were picked up by NCAA Softball’s official Twitter account.
Beatty is playing like a star recruit who routinely crushes softballs from her three spot in the Bison batting order. But the story of how she got to NDSU could be described as accidental.
“If there are two things I want to be known for, it’s being a good teammate and being clutch.” – Bre Beatty
Former NDSU co-head coach and current Minnesota Golden Gopher head coach Jamie Trachsel found the hard-hitting righty during a tournament in Colorado. Trachsel was there to scout the Lil’ Rebels’ catcher. Meanwhile, Beatty was on the bench for her summer club team. She was recovering from ACL reconstruction but her numbers before her season-ending injury were jumping off the stat sheet for Trachsel.
“She talked to my dad about me, and then looked me up on YouTube and saw some of my old recruiting videos,” recalls Beatty more than four years later. “We started exchanging phone calls and she actually never saw me play a real game until after I committed.”
Trachsel found another stalwart in the roster for NDSU during her time watching the Lil’ Rebels. Their pitcher, Jacquelyn Sertic, was nearly untouchable during the tournament. She also happened to be one of Beatty’s best friends.
“She (Sertic) had her visit a week or two after I had mine, and I was just praying the whole time that she was going to commit,” said Beatty. “And she told me she wanted to go there. We were absolutely thrilled that we were able to go to school together.”
Trachsel may have lost the catcher to UNLV, but she picked up two Lil’ Rebels that are currently leading the Bison from the pitching circle and batter’s box.
Learning From The Best
Beatty arrived at NDSU before the 2015 season. That spring, NDSU had arguably one of its best rosters ever assembled. Cheyenne Garcia, Logan Moreland, Amanda Grable, Krista Menke and other players who can now be found in NDSU’s record book led the Bison to a Summit League championship. The Bison won 45 games in 2015 with wins over six Big Ten teams, two Pac 12 teams and gave the second-best team in the country, Oregon, a run for their money twice during the NCAA Regionals in Eugene.
“They were ballers and grinders and they wanted nothing more than to win every single game possible,” Beatty said about witnessing greatness her freshman season. “You can tell that everyone is mentally locked in and focused on every single rep and the details of trying to get better and focus on the process.”
That level of expectation and the amount of commitment shown by the upperclassmen reinforced Beatty’s decision to come to North Dakota State. She wanted to outwork everybody and the 2015 season confirmed success would follow. Beatty said she’ll never be the most athletic player on the team, but she was going to spend more time in the batting cage than anyone else.
“I think Darren (Mueller) has given me plenty of tools to use and then it’s taken a lot of hard work for me to apply them,” said the three-year starter.
NDSU provided another valuable tool for the outfielder. The Dacotah Field Bubble was installed over Dacotah Field the winter of Beatty’s freshman season. She credits the facility to her development because it allowed her to take swings in the cage, sometimes as early as 6 in the morning before heading to class.
“They were ballers and grinders and they wanted nothing more than to win every single game possible.” – Bre Beatty
Beatty’s average sits in the high .300s with the Bison halfway through the season. She leads the team in every major hitting category, except for strikeouts, which happens about once every 11 at-bats for the senior.
If Beatty’s hitting stays at this level and her friend, club teammate and ace pitcher Sertic keep shutting down opponents, NDSU could be extending that championship total to nine this May. But for now, Beatty is trying to stay locked in, and continue to terrorize pitchers across the country by coming through in high-leverage situations.
GAMES PLAYED: 144
HOME RUNS: 10