North Platte sweeps G.I. Northwest, extends winning streak to 12 games

The North Platte Lady Dawgs celebrate a three-run home run by Ellie Hanson, center, in the first game of a doubleheader against Grand Island Northwest at Dowhower Softball Complex in North Platte.

The marathon continued for North Platte on Thursday at Dowhower Softball Complex.

The Lady Dawgs celebrated senior night by mounting a pair of (4-2, 14-4) wins over Grand Island Northwest that extended their current win streak to 12 games spanning back to Sept. 12.

"There have been some really hard-fought games like the first one today in there," North Platte head coach Jeff Barner said. "The girls just continue to pull through and get better every game. All you can ask of them is to continue to get better, and if they keep winning as a result then that’s great."

North Platte (22-9), however, got off to a slow start at the plate, relying on patience to figure out Northwest ace Emily Stein, who retired 13 consecutive batters without a hit or walk through the first four innings.

"I had four scouting reports coming into today from coaches saying that this is the best Stein’s pitched in her whole high school career, and they weren’t lying," Barner admitted. "It took some patience on our behalf to figure her out. Our girls had to see her a couple of times through the lineup before they could make their adjustments."

The adjustments led to two massive home runs in four hits for the Lady Dawgs.

Following four scoreless innings from both teams, the Lady Dawgs snapped the drought in the bottom of the fifth on a Tatum Montelongo triple against Stein, which served as North Platte’s first hit of the game.

The triple preluded what became an Ellie Hanson three-run homer to give the Lady Dawgs a 3-0 lead in the fifth, and another by Sydney Barner to lead off in the bottom of the sixth.

Although racking six hits in the first game, the Vikings went scoreless through five innings. Northwest added just two runs in the top of the sixth before a three-and-out in the seventh preserved North Platte’s 4-2 win.

Barner kept Montelongo in the circle for the second game, a nod to the freshman’s pitching.

Montelongo, who pitched a grand total of 13 innings while allowing just six runs, opened the second game by retiring three consecutive Northwest batters.

In turn, North Platte capitalized at the plate against two different pitchers that didn’t include Stein.

The Lady Dawgs combined for 13 hits and 12 RBIs, having seven batters record at least a hit, and six batters record one RBI or more.

Abby Orr led the Bulldogs with three hits on three trips to the plate, which included a home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to solidify a 14-4 victory. Seniors Maddy Carr and Cassidy Ratliff — who also added a homer — followed with two RBIs apiece.

"Our bats have been hot," Barner said of the second game. "But the great thing is that it’s a team effort and everyone down the lineup has been coming up with big plays at bat. This is a great time in the season to have that going on, so I hope it continues."

North Platte returns to action on Saturday at Dowhower Softball Complex, where they’ll open the GNAC tournament with games against Columbus and Gering.

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