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Dobson puts it in play for FHSU

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Freshman second baseman Courtney Dobson takes a simple approach to batting second in the Fort Hays State University lineup.

Dobson hits behind junior outfielder Bianca Adame, the Tigers' all-time leader in single season steals, and in front of FHSU's lone senior Maddie Holub, a likely All-American and reigning MIAA Player and Pitcher of the Year.

"My role is basically just to put the ball in play," Dobson said. "There is nothing else to it. If Bianca gets on, I need to move her around, and if she doesn't get on, then I need to get on in order for Maddie and the back of the lineup to score me."

Dobson has accomplished that throughout the spring, but has stepped up her performance in the last two weeks. Dobson carries a nine-game hitting streak into this week's NCAA Division II tournament and has upped her average from .265 to .291. In that stretch, Dobson has struck out just two times.

"This is Courtney Dobson," second-year coach Erin Kinberger said. "You guys are just now being able to see it. That's why I recruited her. That kid is a winner. Do or die, you want Courtney Dobson behind you."

Fort Hays (45-10) is the Central Region's overall No. 1 seed. The Tigers will play eighth-seeded Emporia State University (38-18) at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the first round of the double elimination tournament. In the 3 p.m. contest, fourth-seeded University of Central Oklahoma (42-11) plays fifth-seeded Minot State (40-9).

"We just try to beat them no matter who it is," Dobson said.

For the season, Dobson has started all 55 games, one of seven Tigers to start every contest. She has replaced Taylor Nelson, a first team all-MIAA selection and now the Tigers' graduate assistant.

"It's an incredible experience," Dobson said. "I get to learn knowledge from Taylor, but from our coaching staff, and our senior, Maddie, teaches us a lot about leadership and how to take control on and off the field. It's been a great experience this whole entire year."

Dobson has committed just six errors, none since April 20. She has stolen eight bases in nine attempts and often has pushed for the extra base.

"I know I am not the fastest person out there," Dobson said. "Playing aggressively is my mentality when I am on the bases, to get extra bases if I can, if an outfielder bobbles it or if there is a missed throw. Just try to take extra bases as much as I can."

Last weekend, Fort Hays won the MIAA postseason tournament for the first time. The Tigers advanced to the tournament championship game before it lost to Emporia State 1-0.

Then the Tigers bounced back to beat ESU 7-4 to win the title.

Dobson went 3 of 4 with two RBIs and a run scored in the championship. She drove in a run in the third and started a five-run rally in the fifth.

Before one of the hits, Dobson talked with freshman designated hitter/pitcher Paxton Duran. Dobson told Duran, "all I want to do is hit it to the outfield and score the run."

Then she came through.

"She is really that person that can just mellow out everyone," Duran said. "She just does it."