After Hermiston dropped the first softball game of its Mid-Columbia Conference doubleheader against visiting Southridge, the Bulldogs knew something was wrong and changes needed to be made.
“That wasn’t us in game one,” said junior Bailee Noland. “I don’t know what team that was, but if we didn’t pick things up, it would all go downhill.”
They did pick things up, and the day ended in favor of the Dawgs.
After allowing five runs in the second inning of the opener on the way to a 7-2 loss, Hermiston rebounded to claim the second 10-4 in their MCC debut.
In the top of the second inning, Rylee Vasquez, Raelyn Nesary, Bailey Rose and Emmee Ball all drove runners in for the Suns to bury Hermiston early on.
Bulldog senior Sydney Stefani would single and steal second and third in an attempt to get things rolling for her team at the bottom of the fifth, but was ultimately left stranded.
The Suns scored two more runs at the top of the sixth, and it was then that Hermiston finally responded. Noland led off at the bottom of the inning with a home run to get the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.
“It felt pretty good to get that home run,” Noland said, “but we didn’t have enough time to come back.”
At the top of the seventh, Stefani singled and proceeded to steal second and third. She made it home on a wild pitch.
“I think we came in with big heads,” Noland said of the first game. “We thought we were going to blow them out.”
In game two, Hermiston struck back with an exceptional second inning of their own.
At the bottom of the inning, junior Daisy Maddox walked to first, and stole second on a wild pitch. Junior Janelle Almaguer drove her home with a double at the next at-bat. She would score a run off sophomore Halle Pennington’s ensuing sacrifice bunt.
Sophomore Grace Studer and senior Destiny Canisalez would both make it home on wild pitches to round out the inning.
Noland led off the bottom of the third and smacked away another home run. She would do the same in the fourth.
“Bailee is fiercely competitive,” said coach Kate Greenough. “She puts her teammates above herself, and plays selflessly. The team thrives off that. They’ll find ways to help her out when she’s going 100 mph.”
The Suns would bounce back with Marlee Martin’s RBI triple and Marissa Hickman’s RBI double to bring the score to 5-3, but the Dawgs weren’t done.
Stefani, Studer and Canisalez all scored on a trio of wild pitches in the bottom of the fourth. And in the sixth inning, Noland would drive junior Ashley Cameron home with a single.
The Suns loaded the bases at the top of the seventh, and Noland was pitching to junior Kendra Monteith with a full count.
“I knew I had to give my pitching everything I had,” said Noland, who was on the mound for all seven innings of the second game.
Monteith took a hard swing at Noland’s fastball and missed, narrowly avoiding another Southridge rally. It would be Noland’s tenth strikeout of the game.
“I feel much better after getting one win,” Greenough said. “I would’ve rather seen two, though. After the first game, we challenged the kids to trust their skills and to know what they’re playing for. They did that in the second game.”
Stefani hit 3 for 4 in game two, and Almaguer was 3 for 5 with two doubles for the day.
On Tuesday, Hermiston (3-1, 1-1 MCC) hit the road to Hanford for another doubleheader after the Hermiston Herald’s deadline.