In the first inning of their 11-2 loss to West Fargo Tuesday at the Valley City State University softball complex, the girls of the Valley City High School softball team were almost too eager to be taking on the top team in the Eastern Dakota Conference.
From the get-go the Hi-Liners were leaping for liners, diving for shallow flies, but without much luck.
It wasn’t until they settled down that things started working.
“Confidence is all we need to work on,” said Valley City assistant coach Erika Calkins. “We’re starting to get there and we’re starting to improve.”
But early on, the team struggled with what Calkins referred to as “the nervous bugs.”
The Hi-Liners got West’s first two batters out, but allowed a single to right field. The next batter, West Fargo captain Sydney Greenlund, then hit a triple to right field, which was inches from being snagged by a leaping Hi-Liner.
After a single and another walk, the Hi-Liners trailed 2-0. Packer pitcher Jolene Woodbury then hit a shallow fly to left-centerfield. Allison Baasch missed making the sliding catch, again by inches, which allowed Woodbury to take a double and drive in two more runs to make it 4-0.
Though the Hi-Liners later allowed four more runs in the third, it was the first inning that did the damage.
As the game went on, the Hi-Liners’ defense improved, as did the hitting.
In the first two innings, Valley City only had seven batters face Woodbury. The one that reached, sophomore Brooke Breckheimer, was by walk.
But entering the bottom of the third, trailing 8-0, the Hi-Liners put together a rally.
It started when Madison McDaniel reached base on an error. Jenna Coghlan and Amanda Tangen then reached base on infield singles.
Dierra Diegel then had an RBI on a fielders choice to the left side of the infield, scoring McDaniel to make it 8-1.
“After that first inning, we were competitive,” Calkins said. “I’m very proud of the girls.”
The Hi-Liners put together singles in the fourth and fifth innings, but couldn’t get beyond first base.
West Fargo scored its final three runs of the game in the top of the sixth inning to make it 11-1.
The Hi-Liners put together a short rally in the bottom of the sixth to keep it from ending.
The rally started with a double by Breckheimer to deep right-center field. Danica Diegel then hit a single to centerfield. Baasch reached base on a fielder’s choice to second base, though Beckheimer was thrown out at home plate.
Danica Diegel then scored on a sacrifice fly by Keely Fogarty.
Fogarty finished with a complete game in the pitching circle, as well.
It is the first of two games this week for the Hi-Liners, who remain in the top four in the EDC standings.
The team plays a home game with Fargo North at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Calkins said the Hi-Liners likely wouldn’t be affected by the loss.
“It’s a new game and it’s a new start for us,” she said. “The girls know that we can compete with them.”