EDMOND, Okla. – Despite not facing an opposing pitcher for nearly three weeks, the North Platte Community College softball team returned to action Saturday scoring four first-inning runs on the way to a 17-15, extra-inning win over Northeast Community College (Norfolk). The Knights lost the second game Saturday to Iowa Western Community College 21-2.
On Sunday, North Platte lost to Iowa Western 11-0 and beat Northeast 23-7.
“This weekend was like starting all over again, having three weeks off and not being able to get outside in those three weeks is difficult,” North Platte Coach Janelle Higgins said.
“We saw improvements from our last series of games, but like all teams in the Midwest right now we are eager to get outside on our home field and not be inside. We have only had two practices outside this year and it shows in our errors per game. It’s hard to practice fly balls and game situations inside.”
Hallei Morales (North Platte) enjoyed a productive weekend at the plate with 10 RBIs. She went five-for 11 in Edmond with a couple doubles.
The Knights are 3-9 on the season and are scheduled to take on Hastings College at home Wednesday with games at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
On Thursday North Platte travels to McCook for the annual Purple Out Games with a doubleheader for epilepsy awareness set to start at 4 p.m. This weekend Northeast Community College comes to town with a doubleheaders Saturday starting at 2 p.m. and Sunday starting at 1 p.m.
This was the first action of the year for Northeastern Community College and went 0-4. Iowa Western went 4-0 on the weekend to improve to 5-5 on the season.
“We will continue to improve as the season continues, we are proud of the fight and positive attitudes of our kids having to travel eight-plus hours, but they continue to step up and fight,” Higgins said.
SATURDAY: GAME 1 – North Platte CC 17, Northeast CC 15 (8 innings) — With two runners on base in the first inning, freshman Emily Marden (Papillion) lined a two-run triple to ignite the first-inning offensive burst. She scored on a double-steal and a sacrifice bat from Kayleigh Bucio (Rialto, Calif.) gave the Knights the 4-0 lead.
Megan Hernandez-Bellew (Broomfield, Colo.) led off the third with a triple, and she scored after a walk and a NCC error. Bucio made it 6-0 on a sacrifice fly. After allowing a NCC run in the fourth NPCC came back with a two-out rally in the fourth highlighted by a three-run double from Hallei Morales (North Platte) and a Bucio double to make it 10-1.
“We started out strong in Game One (Saturday) against NECC but let them all the way back into the game and had to fight for the win. Having the ability to fight back and not fold is huge but if we do our jobs in the bottom half of the game it wouldn’t have been such a dog fight,” Higgins said.
Freshman Hailey Wilkins (Tyler, Texas) started in the circle for North Platte. She pitched 3.2 innings, Sophomore Ashlynn Krueger (Littleton, Colo.) took over in the third and went 2.2 innings. Marsden pitched the final 1.2 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win.
After Norfolk scored three in the fourth and closed to 10-6 with a run in the fifth, the Knights added two more runs in the sixth on a Marsden double, an RBI single from Morales and a two-out triple from Mikayla Gibson, (West Valley, Utah) sophomore.
Northeast tied the game with seven runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh to send the game into extras.
The Knights opened with a runner at second and the Hawks committed an error on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Gibson. Lindell singled to right to make it a 16-14 game, she later scored on an infield groundout.
SATURDAY: GAME 2 – Iowa Western 21, North Platte CC 2 – The Reivers came out with three runs in the first inning and busted the game open with a 10-run second inning taking advantage of North Platte errors and powering three home runs on the day.
The Knights were charged with a dozen errors in the game.
“At times this weekend, our defense was turning double plays and making outs quick but we also made a lot for routine/fundamental errors,” Higgins said. “Our pitchers were leaving pitches belt high and flat and they capitalized on our mistakes. It is hard to have 8-10 errors against any team and be able to recover but it is even harder when they are fundamentally sound.”
North Platte had five hits in the game with two from Megan Hernandez-Belew.
Emily Marsden went three innings for North Platte in the circle and Ashlynn Krueger went one.
SUNDAY: GAME 1 – Iowa Western 11, North Platte CC 0 – Iowa Western pitchers Julie Katz and Makayla Epp combined on a one-hit shutout as once again the Reivers came out early to take control of the game with six runs in the first inning three more in the second and added two more in the third.
North Platte’s lone hit came on a fourth-inning single by Emily Marsden.
Hailey Wilkins and Ashlynn Krueger shared pitching duties with Wilkins going 1.1 innings and Krueger 2.2.
“IWCC is always tough and hits the ball very well,” Higgins said.
SUNDAY: GAME 2 – North Platte CC 23, Northeast CC 7 – Willow Chitty (North Platte) snapped out of a one-for-10 start to the weekend to lead a 25-hit North Platte offense with four hits in five at bats, scoring four runs, smacking a double, triple, and driving home three RBIs as the Knights broke open a 1-1 in the second with a six-run second inning and an eight-run third.
The Knights also got four-hit games from Ashlynn Krueger and Sienna Pfaff (Salem, Utah) and three-hit games from Kayleigh Bucio and Emily Marsden. All nine position players who started the game had at least two hits.
“In Game 2 against NECC we hit the ball well, had a few mental lapses but were able to finish strong,” Higgins said.
Krueger and Marsden split pitching duties with Krueger going 2.1 innings allowing six hits and two earned runs. Marsden pitched 2.2 innings, allowing three hits and two earned runs.