North Platte’s first official swing of the season resulted in a home run, foreshadowing how the rest of Thursday’s triangular at Dowhower Softball Complex would go.
From a tide of hits to the occasional homer, the Lady Dawgs punctuated their season opener at home with a pair of victories over Adams Central and Gering, thrashing the Patriots 10-0 before coming from behind to beat Gering 7-5.
"Any time you can start opening day with two wins, it’s good," North Platte head coach Jeff Barner said with a smile. "This is a young team and we’re still trying to figure some pieces out, but they’re working really hard and hitting the ball very well."
North Platte (2-0) hit the ball with consistency early on Thursday, opening the first game against Adams Central with a two-run homer on Abbey Orr’s first swing to jump ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first.
And the hits didn’t stop.
"When they’re patient and looking for the pitches, they’re hitting really well," Barner said. "They keep that up all season and the sky’s the limit as far as that goes."
Led by Ellie Hanson and Sydney Barner’s RBI singles, the Lady Dawgs mounted another three runs in the bottom of the second to lead 5-0.
Then North Platte struck again in the bottom of the third, pouring on five more runs.
The rally in the third started with Maddy Carr, who came home on a wild pitch, then Adams Central’s Jersie Frerichs walked another run, and both Josie Preece and Barner delivered three RBIs to push the lead to 10-0.
North Platte closed out the Patriots in the top of the fourth, earning the run-rule victory and freshman Tatum Montelongo’s first as a high school pitcher.
Montelongo allowed just two hits, striking out two and walking one in her North Platte debut.
She would also close out the game against Gering, who tested the young North Platte team early on Thursday’s final game of the night — allowing just one hit and no runs in the final three innings.
North Platte’s first at bat against Gering (0-2) resembled that of Adams Central (1-1), but this time it came on a home run from Barner to give the Lady Dawgs a 1-0 lead early.
The Gering Bulldogs, however, responded with back-to-back homers of their own.
Gering’s Brylee Dean drilled a two-run home run in the top of the first, which was followed by another from Kiana Island on the very next at bat against North Platte’s Michaela Wright, who allowed four runs on five hits in the first three innings of the game.
"There was some adversity early on against Gering, but I thought they handled it really well," Barner said. "They didn’t hang their heads and kept battling."
After a quiet stretch and trailing 4-1 through four innings, North Platte tacked on two runs on a crucial RBI triple from Orr that cut the deficit to 4-3 in the top of the fifth.
Carr then followed with an RBI double to bring Orr home and tie the game at four apiece, setting herself in scoring position as Montelongo stepped to the plate as the potential go-ahead run.
And Montelongo delivered with a two-run homer to put North Platte ahead, 6-4, for the first time in the game.
Gering cut into North Platte’s lead in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double, but a pair of hits in the top of the sixth allowed North Platte to open the gap back to two before putting away Gering.
"No matter the pressure late in the game, it doesn’t seem to phase them," Barner said. "Our motto is ‘all in,’ and they’re pushing all the chips in and going after it without a doubt in their minds."
The Lady Dawgs return to action for a triangular on Monday in Hastings.