In the first two games for the Cottage Grove softball team, their offense struggled to establish any sort of rhythm, resulting in two opening-week losses. But in a doubleheader matchup last Thursday against Douglas, the Lions’ bats were scorching hot, scoring double digit runs in both games and picking up their first wins of the season.
“I think sometimes that first win can be the hardest one,” said Head Coach Adam Dimock. “I really wanted them to get that first win out of the way and to just get the ball going. And allow them to get going in a positive direction.”
The Lions won the first game 10-2 and followed up a 17-7 win to sweep both games against Douglas. Freshman Emily Pacheco turned in two excellent pitching performances against the Trojans, throwing all but one inning in both games and totaling 15 strikeouts on the day.
Cottage Grove’s offense could do almost no wrong, combining for 27 runs and seeing almost everyone record at least one hit in the second game.
“We worked out in the batting cages every day leading up to those games,” said Dimock. “We worked through a lot of problems, we analyzed swings and worked through a lot of live pitching. They came back pretty loose and just started hitting the ball really well and I hope that will continue.”
Cottage Grove kept the Trojans offense in check in the first game but to start game two, Douglas was swinging away in the first inning and drove in two runs already matching their first game total. The Lions responded in the bottom of the inning scoring three runs to grab the lead back with RBI’s from Pacheco and Peyton Baird.
After Douglas took a one-run lead in the top of the second inning, Cottage Grove’s bats exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the frame to propel them in front 10-4.
Lily Waidtlow struck out looking to start the Lions half of the inning, but the hitting avalanche ensued with Cottage Grove scoring all six runs even before recording a second out. The Trojans also had three errors in the inning helping the Lions cause.
The teams exchanged runs in the third inning, but Cottage Grove put another big frame on the board in the bottom of the fourth.
Emma Hitt, Addison Hitt and Baird all hit singles with only one out in the inning then were promptly driven in after a hit from Josie Hitt cleared the bases and Cottage Grove’s lead grew to 14-6.
Following two strikeouts from Pacheco to end the Douglas top of the fifth inning, Cottage Grove only needed to score three more runs to enforce the 10-run rule and earn their second win of the day.
Pacheco struck out looking for the Lions second out, but the bases were still loaded. Baird drew a walk to bring in one run, but in the next at bat Josie Hitt drove a hit to right fielder bringing in the other two runs the Lions needed to close out the 17-7 win in the fifth inning.
“I think the thing that I was the happiest about was the hitting,” said Dimock. “That was very weak at the start, and I knew that they were better than that. It’s just sometimes with softball, it just takes a little while to get the timing down.” Dimock added. “It’s nice to win any type of game whether it’s by one run or 10 runs, but to 10 run somebody like that is really a confidence booster. I was super happy for them; I know the early struggles that they’ve had. So, to 10 run somebody is a big deal. And they were super happy about it.”
Cottage Grove only has two games left before league play gets underway. The Lions have a doubleheader against Springfield on March 31 at 3 and 5 p.m. before taking some time off ahead of Sky-Em play.