It was an exciting sight for the North Douglas softball team: junior Nicki Derrick in the pitcher’s circle. After leading the team to the state title in her freshman season, an ACL injury sidelined Derrick for her sophomore year. But last Saturday, she was back in action for the first time as the Warriors started the season at home with a 6-3 victory over Glide.
“It was really nice. Honestly, doesn’t feel like I skipped a year. Sometimes I forget I skipped a whole year of softball,” said Derrick after recording 11 strikeouts and giving up two hits.
Facing Glide, North Douglas was diving straight into the season against a top-team. Last year at the 3A level, the Wildcats finished in sixth place and made it to the state quarterfinals. Now down to 2A, Glide was ranked 11th in the preseason coaches’ poll and received two first place votes. In the same poll, the Warriors are ranked as the number four team in the state at the 1A/2A level.
But it was the Wildcats striking first in the second inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, Derrick struck out a pair of batters before a flurry of North Douglas mistakes. A batter was walked followed by an overthrow and a dropped third strike that all resulted in three runs for Glide.
“We struggled with defense a little bit. We’ve been on our field since Monday. I think we’ve only had two real fielding days so it was kind of as expected,” said Derrick. “I think we’re going to get to work and get it figured out. Our bats are kind of what saved us a little bit. Our momentum really shifted once we got our bats going and then it just transferred to defense.”
For North Douglas head coach Jesse Rice, he was more blunt about the team’s early lapses. “We gave them those three runs, that was mental errors,” said Rice. “(But) this team didn’t lower their heads, didn’t get down, they just said, ‘Ok, no problem.’ They kept playing their game and we ended up winning. It’s quite a group of kids.”
Not only did the Warriors not give up any more runs on the game, but in the third inning their bats came alive. The team saw three doubles in a row from freshman Halli Vaughn, junior Hope Morgan and Derrick to start the inning. All three batters scored in the inning to tie the game.
“This team, these girls, they’re aggressive baserunners and we work on that. We said you capitalize on every mistake because you never know if you’re going to get that chance again,” said Rice.
The Warriors had 11 hits while Morgan, along with leadoff Sofia Alcantar, each finished the game with three. Vaughn had two hits on the day.
“I think the thing that impressed me the most today was our bats,” said Rice noting that Glide’s pitcher, senior Jordan Williams, is a top pitcher at the 16U level. “So I was really impressed with our offense because we, like I said, we started with three freshman and we’ve got some solid defensive players. But to have the offense come on like that, I was really happy.”
North Douglas plays again today, Wednesday March 20, at home against Pleasant Hill at 4:30 p.m.