NORTH BEND — For six innings Monday afternoon, North Bend pitcher Cheyenne Datan and the Bulldogs’ defense were sparkling against visiting Elmira in the season opener.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, those were the final six innings, after the Falcons scored three runs in the first inning. And by the time North Bend finally broke through in the seventh inning, it was too little too late as the Falcons left town with a 3-2 victory.
“I think we started the first inning off a little rough,” Datan said. “And we didn’t get our bats going in time.”
“We need to get that going earlier,” added Drew Culver. “It could have been the difference between winning and losing.”
Dayton was fantastic after her rough start, but Elmira made the most of it.
Elmira pitcher Kylee Anderson drew a leadoff walk and Josie Dickson followed her down to first in the same manner, after Dayton had thrown two of the first three pitches to each for strikes.
Cheyanne White followed with a single to load the bases.
After the first of Datan’s 13 strikeouts, Ashley Feltz hit an RBI single, Sarah Stout reached on an error to bring in another run and Maranda Hanson drew a bases-loaded walk.
“I wasn’t in rhythm,” Datan said of the slow start. “After the first inning, I dialed myself in.”
Did she ever. Elmira didn’t get another base runner until a pair of singles and an error by the Bulldogs in the final two innings.
But through that entire stretch, North Bend was struggling to get anything of its own going against Anderson.
Culver had a single to lead off the second but got doubled off first base when North Bend’s next batter hit a line drive to the first baseman.
Maddie Finnigan hit a pair of drives to the fence in right-center. She got a double on the first one, but was thrown out at second trying stretch the second into a double after the ball deflected off the fence right to Elmira’s centerfielder.
North Bend finally got on the board in the seventh, with help from the Falcons, who committed errors on balls hit by Gwen Hogewaning, Hannah Robison and Charlee Lincoln and Carlie Paquette walked.
But with two on and two outs, Anderson struck out North Bend leadoff hitter Kaitlyn Randle to end the game.
“I like how we battled to the end,” Datan said.
Culver added that she was proud of the bottom five players in the lineup, who led the seventh-inning rally or got on base earlier by hits (Finnigan) or other ways (a walk to Robison followed by a fielder’s choice to Lincoln in the second inning.
“The bottom of our lineup produced very well this game,” Culver said, adding that she and the others near the top need to do better.
Datan said the Bulldogs can build off the game, and North Bend coach Ryan Goll agreed.
“I think the biggest thing for me is it’s important to play quality opponents,” he said. “We’re at the level where we need to play good teams.”
The Falcons fit that description, having reached the Class 4A quarterfinals last spring.
Goll added that while Datan was fantastic, North Bend can’t rely on her.
“I think we’re a good enough team that we are not going to get on Cheyenne’s back,” he said. “We’re a team that we want to score six-seven-eight runs.”
Weather permitting, North Bend will get a second shot at its first win Wednesday, when Reedsport comes to town.
Junction City 10, Marshfield 0: The Pirates were shut out by the host Tigers and their pitcher Jenna Kister in their season opener.
Marshfield’s only hit against Kister was a single by Kaylee Hall.
“This was not the outing I expected for our first game, but we knew that Junction City was going to be good,” Marshfield coach Brooke Toy said. “We now know what we need to work on and how we can get better.
“We will continue to grow, and I’m glad we got out to play on a beautiful day.”
Kister struck out 10 and allowed only one walk and the Tigers played spotless defense behind her.
The biggest highlight of the day for Marshfield came in the junior varsity game, a 24-21 win by the Pirates, when Julia Gaston hit a home run over the 200-foot fence, Toy said.
Coquille 17, Gold Beach 3: The Red Devils opened the season with a road win over the Panthers.
North Bend 14, Elmira 7: The Bulldogs opened the season with a road win, boosted by two big innings.
North Bend scored five runs in the fifth to build a 7-0 lead. After Elmira got four runs of its own in the fifth to narrow the score, North Bend added seven insurance runs in the seventh.
Bridger Holmes had a double and drove in three runs for the Bulldogs. Lucas Moe also had a double, scored two runs and drove in one. August Baker had a single, who RBIs and two runs.
Mane Freeman and Moe combined on a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts and five walks.
“The kids lit up the strike zone,” North Bend coach Brad Horning said. “That was the difference. We were walked 11 times.”
North Bend made three errors, but Horning was OK with that.
“It was really nice to play,” he said. “It was a great day up there. We made some mistakes, but you’ve got to play more to not make those mistakes.”
Gold Beach 14, Coquille 4: The Panthers beat the visiting Red Devils to open the season.