In a battle of top 2A/1A teams in the state, it was Monroe walking away with a sweep last week over North Douglas. The seventh-ranked Dragons and ninth-ranked Warriors squared off three times with Monroe winning 5-0, 3-2 and 3-1.
“Well, the conversation I had after this game was how much better (we played),” said North Douglas head coach Jesse Rice after Friday’s final game.
“We went there Tuesday and… we weren’t hitting the ball. We weren’t seeing the ball. Today, we hit the ball, saw the ball. We just couldn’t get that clutch hit when we needed it.”
Tuesday on the road, the team finished with three hits.
Hosting a double-header on Friday, the Warriors were ready for another crack at the top team in league and were inches away from, at the very least, forcing extra innings.
Aided by back-to-back homeruns from Ashley Sutton and Tyler Warden in the third inning, the Dragons went into the bottom of the seventh ahead 3-2.
Joanna Alcantar hit an infield single for the Warriors and represented the tying run. After lead-off batter Payton Black was walked, the Warriors had a runner in scoring position with just one out.
A pop out on the next at bat brought North Douglas to their final out. After throwing a strike, a routine throw from the catcher to the pitcher went awry as the ball ended up getting past the second basemen and into the outfield grass. Alcantar, on second, sprinted to third and headed home. As she ran home, the ball was thrown in to the catcher and was placed perfectly in Alcantar’s path and she was tagged out at the plate to finish the game.
The Warriors finished with six hits.
In the second game of the day, the Dragons started off quick after their lead-off hitter, Peyton Greene, was hit by a pitch and scored two batters later.
In the third inning, the Warriors were dealt a blow after a Monroe runner ran into second basemen Riley Black as she was fielding a ground ball.
“She’s got a great big fat lip,” said Rice. “Well, actually the girl had a facemask on and the facemask hit her right in the mouth. Course it was just that one rail on the facemask and it just split her lip wide open.”
Black’s temporary absence was felt in the fourth inning. With runners on first and second with one out, a grounder was hit to second in what could-have been a routine double-play but resulted in a fielding error that scored a run. Monroe scored two runs in the inning. Black returned to the lineup later in the game.
In the following inning, Lilly Downie recorded a single and scored the lone run of the day for the Warriors off of a dropped ball in left field. North Douglas finished the game with eight hits.
“We let a lot of first strikes go by. We stood in and watched them go by and those were the perfect pitch. So we’re going to have to focus on not letting that first one get past us and put us in a hole when we’re up to bat,” said Rice.
“But other than that, I thought we played really well. Defensively, we did really well both games. Just didn’t get that clutch hit when we needed it.”
With two weeks of league play left in the season, the Warriors now sit in third place two games back from Monroe and one game back from Oakland. This week the team faces Yoncalla/Elkton, who have won one game in league play, before taking on the eighth ranked Oakers in the final three-game series of the season.
“But if we can win out we’re still going to be walking into league playoff in a good spot. A really good spot. And that’s what we want and I think we can get that,” said Rice. “We’re getting better every day… I feel really good about the rest of the season, actually, after today.”