NORTH BEND — After an agonizing loss in the series opener to South Umpqua on Tuesday and a humbling 13-2 loss to the Lancers in the opener of Friday’s doubleheader, North Bend coach Ryan Goll gave his players a pep talk.
“We said between games we needed to create some confidence,” Goll said, explaining that no matter what happened in the nightcap, the Bulldogs were going to face other teams gunning for them as the rest of the Far West League schedule unfolds.
“We needed to get a morale lift,” he said.
The Bulldogs did that in a big way, riding the solid pitching of Charlee Lincoln and a few clutch hits to beat South Umpqua 5-2 and salvage a split of the doubleheader.
“I think the team did a good job picking up after a tough loss,” North Bend’s Kaitlyn Randle said. “We had good energy (in the second game).”
Randle said the Bulldogs let a few South Umpqua runs get to them in the first game. They never let the Lancers build a lead in the nightcap.
South Umpqua scored in the second inning when Aneykah McCall doubled with two outs and Amelia Ferguson followed with a single.
But the Bulldogs answered right away when Maddie Finnigan walked and came all the way around to score when a single by Carlie Paquette got by South Umpqua’s left fielder for an error.
And while the Lancers couldn’t get anything more against Lincoln, the Bulldogs added runs in the next three innings to build a lead.
Gwen Hogewoning had a two-out double and scored on Randle’s single in the third and then Drew Culver had a lead-off double, moved to third on a single by Finnigan and scored on a bad pick-off throw in the fourth.
South Umpqua brought first-game pitcher Tayah Kelley back in for the fifth inning, but the Bulldogs weren’t bothered by her speed, which is much better than Ferguson’s.
Haley Snelgrove was hit by a pitch with one out and then Randle drove a single through the infield with two outs. Cheyenne Datan drew a walk and Culver hit a single to center to score both Snelgrove and Randle.
“Shout out to Drew,” Goll said. “That was huge.”
It started with Randle’s hit off Kelley.
“It was awesome,” she said. “It started off the team. If you can do it, we all can.”
Meanwhile, Lincoln was steady limiting South Umpqua until an error and later a two-out single by McCall led to a run in the sixth.
“I can’t have enough nice things to say about Charlee Lincoln and how well she pitched,” Goll said. “You give her credit throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters.”
Lincoln never got even to three balls on any batters.
“I think I just kept looking forward to the next pitch,” she said. “The coaches asked me to keep them low. I just was trying to get ground balls.”
And when she did, the defense handled them for the most part.
North Bend brought in first-game starter Cheyenne Datan for the seventh inning and she worked around one walk to get the Lancers out and secure the win.
“It felt really good,” Lincoln said of the victory. “It showed our hard work pays off.”
In the first game, the Lancers got three runs in the third and then broke the game open with five in the fifth.
Aaliyah Rudy had three runs, Shalyn Gray had three hits and two runs, Kelley had two hits and two runs and Kalie Mann had a double and scored twice.
The Bulldogs managed nine hits off Kelley, but couldn’t produce any big innings. Hogewoning had three hits, Culver had two hits and a run and Snelgrove had a single and a run.
“They were ready to play and we weren’t,” Randle said. “After they got a few runs, we got down on ourselves. We didn’t shake it off like we should have.”
Fortunately, the Bulldogs bounced back in the second game to earn the split.
“I’m happy with where we’re at,” Goll said. “If you had to win (only) one of them then you would pick the last one (for momentum going forward).”
Last year the Lancers and Bulldogs finished first and second in the league standings, but North Bend isn’t taking anything for granted this spring.
“It’s important to not look past any team,” Randle said. “We need to keep our head straight.”
The Bulldogs face Marshfield for their series next week, visiting the Pirates on Tuesday and then hosting a twin bill against Marshfield on Friday.