Softball doubleheaders can potentially cause focus issues for players because of the length of time spent on the field and in the dugout, but three games in a day can be a little more problematic.
This was not the case for the North Idaho College softball team Saturday as they kept their eyes on the prize and won two out of their three games against Western Nevada on Sophomore Day.
“This is a special group because they’ve been very loyal,” NIC head coach Don Don Williams said. “We’ve had a lot of adversity. They’ve just stuck together. They stuck true to NIC and the program. They’re just a great bunch of kids and I’m really going to miss them next year.”
NIC won the first and last games of the three-game series with the Wildcats with scores of 6-1 and 2-0. The Cardinals dropped the second game 8-2. The series was supposed to be four games but due to the field conditions from the rain, the scheduled doubleheaders Friday and Saturday turned into a three-game set Saturday.
NIC recognized its sophomore players between the second and third games as they were their last games of their career at Memorial Field.
Sophomore Emily Perlich said she felt “complete sadness” during the recognition and will miss the “family atmosphere” that NIC softball has brought to her. But, during the games she was focused on playing as hard as she could.
“These are my last games on this field and I didn’t want to have any regrets,” Perlich said. “I wanted to throw the way I knew I could and just be consistent for my teammates.”
Sophomore catcher Shelby Carter wanted to go out strong too.
“It’s bittersweet,” Carter said. “It’s exciting that we’re winning and doing great things but at the same time it’s our last home game and we want to put it all out on the field and just give it everything we have. I really think we showed that today.”
In the first game, the Cardinals scored two runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Perlich picked up the win, holding Western Nevada’s offense scoreless until a run in the sixth inning.
“She has great command of her pitches right now,” Williams said.
During the second game, Western Nevada’s center fielder robbed a home run from Amber Meyers in the bottom of the second inning, catching the ball and then knocking over part of the center-field fence.
The Wildcats scored four runs in the top of the third inning and tacked on two more in the fourth inning.
Western Nevada catcher Sydney Darby threw out sophomore Heather Bishop at second base on a steal attempt in the bottom of the fifth inning. Bishop hurt her head on the play and sat on the bench for an inning until returning to shortstop in the seventh inning.
Williams said “she took a knee to the temple” and “she was a little dizzy so we had to sit her out until she got her bearings back.”
Williams said she did not sustain a concussion.
In the top of the sixth inning, Western Nevada’s Jennifer Rechel hit a two-run home run over the left-field fence to take an 8-0 lead.
Carter hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Kylene Hatton in the sixth inning for NIC’s first run of the game.
Hatton knocked in a run in the seventh inning but the Cardinals were unable to overcome the seven-run deficit that they faced going into the inning.
“We just couldn’t get our timing and I felt that our bats were really silent today,” Williams said. “It wasn’t the performance that I expected out of our lineup.”
In the final game, Perlich returned to the circle for her final time at Memorial Field to pitch a complete game shutout, striking out 10.
“It’s just solid and that’s what you want from your sophomore pitcher at the end of the year,” Williams said.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the second inning but came away with no runs.
NIC took advantage of a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth inning. Sophomore third baseman Desirae Tinoco scored from third after Kellsi Parson got in an intentional rundown between first and second base.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Kelsey LaVaute scored from first after Carter hit a double.
“My previous couple at-bats I was really early on the ball so I was just looking to sit on the inside pitch a little bit longer and drive it to left-center,” Carter said. “I just waited for my pitch and saw it and attacked it.”
NIC (18-28, 12-23) will play the College of Southern Idaho in doubleheaders Friday and Saturday in Twin Falls before finishing the regular season in a four-game set with Colorado Northwestern in Rangely, Colo., May 3 and 4.