North Platte Community College capitalized on clear skies and warm temperatures to sweep Northwest Kansas Technical College on Tuesday at Dowhower Softball Complex.
After a week of limited action due to weather conditions, the Lady Knights didn’t seem to forget how to swing a bat or close out a game, coming from behind in back-to-back games to earn a pair of victories by scores of 11-9 and 18-17 over the Mavericks.
"It feels really good to get back on the field," NPCC head coach Janelle Higgins said. "It’s hard when you don’t play for a week, having to play catch-up all over again. But we gave them a fight today and that’s for sure. These kids believe in the program, they come out and fight hard and that’s all we can ask of them."
Both teams appeared buckled tight on a roller coaster ride of runs, trading leads, hits and home runs throughout the course of 14 innings.
The Knights (11-17) trailed by four through three and a half innings in the first game, but a Willow Chitty single on a 1-0 count in the bottom of the fifth inning highlighted a 10-2 spurt through three innings, helping NPCC to their first lead of the game — one they wouldn’t give up.
"That just shows how much grit these kids have," Higgins said. "They come from behind a lot, sometimes because they get lackadaisical, but they never give up and always fight hard enough to pull through."
Hallei Morales led the Knights in the first game with four hits in four at bats, doubling in the first, smashing a homer in the fourth and singling in the fifth. Kayleigh Bucio also homered for the Knights in the fourth inning. NPCC finished the first game with 17 hits, receiving multiple knocks from Morales, Chitty, Bucio, Mikayla Gibson and Alea Binkly.
Both teams combined for 28 hits in the first game, a foreshadow of what was to come.
The second game gave fans at Dowhower a parade of hits from both teams, combining for 35 hits and 35 runs.
"That ball was moving, but it was moving in every direction," Higgins said. "Pitchers were hitting spots, but they’re a good hitting team, and we’re a good hitting team. It’s always good when kids like Hallei (Morales) step in that box and gets a good hit up the middle to gets things rolling. Hitting is contagious."
The Knights opened the slugfest with a 7-2 cushion through the first three innings, but the Mavericks (1-32) responded with five runs punctuated by a Siam Rosalez homer to tie the game. Rosalez would join Paige Kaezevich, Allyssa Wilmoth and Kristenna Thomas — all hitting one home run for NKTC.
North Platte ramped it up, breaking the tie with six runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Then came the sixth inning, which brought a consortium of hits from both teams.
The Mavericks scored eight runs in the top of the inning, snatching their first lead of the game with a 15-13 cushion. NPCC, however, fought back, adding five runs to hold off NKTC.
Chitty led the Knights in the second game by going 5-for-5 at the plate. Bucio, who hit the sole home run for NPCC in the second game, joined Emily Marsden, Maddie Liddell and Morales with multiple hits and RBI’s.
The Lady Knights return to action at home on Saturday for a doubleheader against Region IX foe Central Community College.