Kettle Falls High (8-6, 9-6), currently in third place in the Northeast A League girlâ€™s softball race behind Lakeside (11-1) and second place Riverside (11-2), started the week with three straight wins before losing a doubleheader last Saturday at Riverside.
The Lady Bulldogs started a busy week back on April 16 with a tough 5-2 win over visiting Chewelah. Two days later, KFHS edged visiting Medical Lake 4-3, and 2-1 before ending the week with 9-0, 8-6 losses at Riverside.
For the most part, KFHS head coach Amy Owens was pleased with the way her team played last week. At least she was until last Saturday.
While Riverside dominated the opener, holding listless KFHS to only two hits, the Lady Bulldogs had to work to lose game two. Leading 6-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Kettle surrendered four runs and that was that.
â€śTo say I am disappointed would be an understatement,â€ť Owens said of the twinbill loss at Riverside. â€śAt the end of the season, I really expect our kids to dig deep and put some wins in the book.
â€śTo come out strong in the second game (at Riverside) after being beaten soundly in the first game was a good sign. We really got aggressive at the plate, in a smart way, with our pitch selections. Weâ€™ve been working hard on that.â€ť
Owens said her teamâ€™s defensive play was strong for six innings. Trouble is, these are seven-inning games.
â€śWe need to finish strong against teams that expect to beat us,â€ť the coach added.
In game one at Riverside, which came after a one-hour delay on a wet, cool day, the Rams dominated, scoring two in the first, two more in the third and fourth innings, and three more in the fifth inning.
The Rams collected 12 hits off Krislin McInelly.
Catcher Jacy Hunt led Riverside with a home run.
Kourtney Keenan and Serena Pounds were the only two Kettle Falls players to hit safely in game one.
â€śWe just couldnâ€™t get anything going,â€ť Owens said. â€śWe stood for strikes and swung at balls. We made their pitcherâ€™s job a whole lot easier.â€ť
The second game at Riverside was a different story, at least until the fateful seventh inning.
KFHS scored a run in the first and backed that up with three more in the second to take a 4-0 lead in support of McInelly in the circle.
Five straight singles
Five second inning singles paved the way to a big inning (Laren Moak, Kelsey Eslick, Annie Anderson, Keenan and Emily Owens).
But Riverside bounced back with two runs in the third and fourth innings and three more in the fifth. But still, Kettle Falls nursed that 6-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.
A pop-out to first got the first out. A single preceded the second out. But a pair of key hits and two Kettle Falls errors conspired to turn what looked like a KFHS win into a Riverside sweep, and a difficult loss to swallow.
In the win over Chewelah, Kettle Falls played solidly on defense (only one error) and did enough on offense to get the job done behind McInelly.
Kettleâ€™s infield recorded 12 put-outs. Six of them were handled by shortstop Owens.
The Lady Bulldogs were able to take advantage of seven walks issued by Chewelah pitching.
Kettle Falls, leading 3-2 heading into the sixth inning, got a little cushion when Keenan drove Moak home (single) with a triple. Some solid base-running added another run and the Lady Bulldogs were able to hold off Chewelah.
Keenan and Moak both had a pair of hits for Kettle Falls.
In the come-from-behind 4-3 opening game win over Medical Lake, the Cardinals led 3-2 before KFHS tied the game at 3-3 in the seventh to force extra innings.
With one down in the seventh, Keenan was aboard on an infield hit. Berg laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt and Keenan was in scoring position. With two outs, Owens hit a drive to right-field that was misplayed by the ML right-fielder. Keenan scored and this one was headed to extra innings.
Kettle Falls had taken a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning on the strength of a Berg double and an RBI bunt from Pounds.
Outfielders Moak and Haley Volking helped hold off ML in the top of the eighth inning. Eslick at second base also came up big.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Owens came up big again with Keenan on second base (hit by pitch) and Berg on first (walk). The sophomore drilled a pitch between third and shortstop on a two-strike count to plate Keenan with the winning run.
â€śWe worked a little harder in that game than we should have,â€ť Owens said of the late game dramatics.
McInelly scattered seven hits and struck out seven. She didnâ€™t issue a walk.
â€śShe is really doing a great job of hitting her locations and moving the ball around,â€ť Owens said of her veteran senior pitcher. â€śAnd Kourtney (Keenan) is becoming very solid behind the plate.â€ť
Game two was strictly a pitcherâ€™s duel. Both teams combined for all of six hits. Keenan, Berg and Eslick had Kettleâ€™s trio of base hits.
Kettle Falls tied the game at 1-all in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of an error and Eslickâ€™s single.
It was more Small Ball in the third inning. Berg singled and scored on a hard-hit shot by winning pitcher McInelly to leftfield.
Kettle Falls made it stand up.