Cowgirls roll past Estacada Rangers in five-inning shutout
Brooke Dalton pitched the best game of her career, striking out 11 and allowing just two hits in five innings of work, as the Cowgirls shut out the Estacada Rangers 12-0 in the league opener for both teams.
Dalton was in control throughout the game Friday, allowing just four baserunners as the Cowgirls cruised to the easy victory.
"Brooke pitched really well," Crook County head coach Jeremy Puckett said following the game. "She was getting ahead of most of the hitters, and she kind of dominated."
Puckett added that the Cowgirls have been working on pitching location in practice, and it paid off in a big way during the game.
"We have been working on locating our pitches, and we have had some really good workouts this week," he said. "And a lot of it had to do with the catcher (Caitlyn Elliott). She called a great game."
As well as the game went for the Cowgirls, the start was inauspicious as Estacada's leadoff hitter ripped a hard single to left field. The batter wound up on second when the Cowgirls left fielder failed to field the ball cleanly, leaving the Rangers with a runner in scoring position and nobody out.
However, Dalton struck out the next batter she faced, and then the Cowgirls converted a double play on a hard-hit ball to short. Shortstop Berkley Puckett fielded the ball cleanly and threw a strike to first. Following the easy out at first, the Cowgirls caught the Estacada baserunner in a rundown between second and third, eventually tagging her out for the final out of the inning.
The double play seemed to ignite the Cowgirls, who immediately responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Leadoff hitter Abby Dalton lined a single up the middle, then stole second to get things rolling for the Cowgirls. Dalton quickly went to third on a passed ball.
"We may have come out a little lazy, but we woke up as the game started," Dalton said.
Puckett walked, putting runners on the corner, then stole second.
Dalton scored on a ground ball to second by Emma Ackley as Puckett advanced to third.
Elliott then walked and instead of stopping on first kept going, attempting to steal second. The Rangers were able to throw Elliott out, but an alert Puckett scored on the play.
Estacada was able to get out of the inning without any further damage, but with Dalton in control in the pitching circle, that was the only runs that the Cowgirls would need.
The Rangers tried to rally in the second, as Dalton hit the first batter she faced with a pitch. The runner advanced to second and third on a passed ball and a wild pitch, respectively, before Dalton struck out the side.
With both the Cowgirls and the Rangers missing several players due to illness or injury, Crook County took advantage of their superior depth as the game went on.
Liz Barker opened the bottom of the second inning with a single up the middle for the Cowgirls. Barker advanced to second on a wild pitch, then stole third, before Brooke Dalton ripped a double to right center, scoring Barker. A walk by Kalyn Martinez put runners on first and second before Ashley Owens executed a perfect sacrifice bunt, moving the Cowgirl baserunners to second and third.
Abby Dalton then walked, loading the bases. Berkley Puckett then hit a ground ball that was fielded cleanly by Estacada's pitcher, who threw home. However, the catcher failed to step on home plate in time, and everyone was safe. A hard ground ball to first by Ackley allowed Dalton to score for the Cowgirls' third run of the inning before Elliott struck out to end the inning.
Estacada managed to get their second and final hit of the game in the third inning, however, they never threatened to score as Dalton struck out the side.
Crook County continued to build their lead in the bottom half of the inning, scoring three more runs to go ahead 8-0. Singles by Barker and Abby Dalton along with a second double by Brooke Dalton were the big hits of the inning.
After retiring the Rangers in the fourth inning, the Cowgirls exploded for four more runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Mekynzie Wells, Barker and Brooke Dalton all singled in the inning, while Abby Dalton hit a three-run double off of the centerfield fence to break the game wide open.
Dalton then struck out the side in the fifth inning as the game ended early due to the 10-run rule.
"I knew that I had my team behind me, so I had that confidence," Dalton said of her pitching gem. "My rise ball was working pretty good today, and the win was really team boosting. It was a very good way to start league."
Brooke Dalton was 3-for-3 at the plate, with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. Abby Dalton was also 3-for-3 with three RBIs, while Barker went 3-for-3 and Wells was 2-for-3.
"A couple of our hitters had a really good day, but overall our hitting was not as good as I had hoped today," Puckett said. "I think we got lucky in a lot of situations. We have got to make sure that we take all of our hitting drills more serious than we have been the last week or so."
With the win, the Cowgirls improved to 7-4 on the year and 1-0 in Tri-Valley Conference play, while Estacada fell to 1-11 overall and 0-1 in league action.
The two teams were scheduled to play again, weather permitting, in Estacada on Monday.
The Cowgirls are home on Wednesday when they take on the Corbett Cardinals (1-7, 0-1), then travel to Corbett on Friday to take on the Cardinals again. Game time for all three games is 4:30 p.m.
Crook County 12, Estacada 0
At Crook County
Estacada 000 00 — 0 2 2
Crook County 233 4x — 12 10 1