Bumps and bruises line the way to rebuilding the young Blaine girls softball program. A team without seniors, it has been difficult to avoid challenges as their 0-10 record reflected going into their game against Bellingham at Pipeline Fields, Tuesday, April 26.
After a week of games, where tangible improvement was overshadowed by disappointing losses, it was unsurprising that instead of raucous celebration, there was only a sense of relief after the Borderites took out their frustrations on the struggling Red Raiders, scoring five runs in each of the first two innings on their way to a 14-0 Northwest Conference (NWC) win.
“We came out fighting pretty hard today,” said Blaine head softball coach Alisa Burk, after her long awaited first-ever coaching victory.
While Blaine has shown improved hitting of late, as was evident by the nine hits against Bellingham, the Borderites were aided by an avalanche of pitching mistakes by Red Raider starter Katie Cooke. Cooke committed four illegal pitches, four hit batters, and two walks.
“We really took advantage of the mistakes today,” Burk said. “We were really more relaxed at the plate.”
Blaine used three of those illegal pitches, two Bellingham errors and three hits, including a crushing two RBI triple by Alexis McElwain, to stake a 5-0 lead in the first inning.
The five runs were the most Blaine had scored all season in a game. Not satisfied, Blaine picked up their next five runs in a more conventional manner, battering Cooke for five consecutive hits.
Cooke began to lose her control in the third, when she inexplicably hit four batters with pitches contributing to a four-run inning that led to the shortened game.
While Blaine hitters seemed more at ease, it was Ashley Bolick who was truly relaxed.
The Borderites’ number one pitcher mowed easily through the Bellingham lineup only surrendering one hit, a meaningless lead-off single to Cooke in the fourth inning, striking out six for her first victory of the season, to go 1-7 on the year.
“My teammates helped me out a lot,” Bolick said after facing only three more than the minimum number of batters.
The victory lifted Blaine out of the basement of the NWC ahead of both Bellingham and Nooksack.
“We just need to take momentum from this and carry into our games against Burlington and Squalicum,” Burk said.
The momentum was abruptly halted in their game against Squalicum, Thursday, April 28, at Pipeline Fields.
After running amok on Bellingham pitching, it was the Storm that deluged Bolick with a barrage of hits.
The Storm collected 14 hits, including three home runs, and the Borderites committed four errors that contributed to a six-run Squalicum outburst in the fourth inning, after trailing by only 4-1. Blaine batters never got on track against Storm pitcher Amanda Richards who struck out 10 on her way to Squalicum’s 11-1 victory.
Blaine’s lone run came on Margaret William’s first career home run. The loss dropped the Borderites to 1-11 (1-6 in the NWC).