The Crook County Cowgirls finally stopped their Intermountain Conference losing streak.
Heading into Thursday's home doubleheader with the The Dalles Riverhawks, the Cowgirls were 0-9 in conference play.
The Cowgirls played just six innings in the opening game as play ended in the sixth inning due to the 10-run rule with the Riverhawks leading 15-4.
However, with their lineup altered dramatically, the Cowgirls came from behind to take the nightcap 13-12 on a dramatic bases-loaded single from freshman Allie Vaughan in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"It was a huge win, and that was definitely the confidence boost that we needed," senior Berkley Puckett said following the second game. "I think it gives us a lot of momentum. After losing so many games, we were starting to get used to losing, so I think it's going to propel us on from here."
Game one went just like the rest of the league season had gone for the Cowgirls.
Crook County gave up three runs in the bottom of the first inning as they fell behind early.
The Dalles added three more runs in the third inning as they took a commanding 6-0 lead.
Crook County finally answered in the bottom half of the third inning. Emma Lees reached base on a Riverhawk error, then went to third on a Liz Barker double.
Lees scored on an Ashley Owens single, while Barker went to third.
Barker then scored on a Puckett sacrifice.
With two outs, Olivia Snoke walked to keep the Crook County rally alive.
However, Riverhawk pitcher Bailey LeBriton then struck out Kalyn Martinez to end the Crook County rally.
The Dalles added two runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth to run out to a 10-2 lead.
Crook County tried to rally in the bottom half of the fifth.
With two outs, Owens singled to start the rally. Puckett then walked, before Snoke ripped a triple to right centerfield, scoring a pair of runs.
Snoke then tried to score on a passed ball but was called out in a close play at home, ending the inning.
The Dalles then exploded for five runs in the top of the sixth inning. When the Cowgirls were unable to answer in the bottom half of the inning, the game ended due to the 10-run rule.
LeBriton finished with six strikeouts in the game, while allowing five hits and walking four. Meanwhile, Riverhawk batters ripped 22 hits against Lees, who pitched the entire game for the Cowgirls.
Crook County dramatically altered their lineup for game two, and the strategy worked.
Puckett moved from shortstop to pitcher, something she hasn't done all year.
Owens then moved from centerfield to catcher, and the Cowgirls revamped their entire outfield as well.
The Dalles once again got off to a hot start, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning.
After the second run, Crook County head coach Jeremy Puckett called time out and challenged his team.
"We were at the point where I was really tired of giving up bases, and I wanted to make sure they understood that," Puckett said of the timeout.
That seemed to ignite the Cowgirls.
The team tied the game in the bottom half of the first as Lees doubled off the centerfield wall, then went to third on an Owens single.
Puckett then hit a ground ball to short. Owens was out at second, but the Riverhawks made an error while attempting to turn the double play. A hustling Puckett made it all the way to second as Lees scored. Puckett then scored as Snoke reached base on the second Riverhawk error of the inning.
Neither team scored in the second, but The Dalles scored a pair of runs in the third and two more in the fourth as they took a 6-2 lead.
However, the Cowgirls responded with seven runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning to take a 9-6 lead.
Autumn Coffelt had a pair of hits, including a double in the inning, while Puckett, Owens and Lees also doubled in the inning.
The Dalles regained the lead in the fifth inning as Maddie Troutt blasted a towering home run, and the Riverhawks scored four runs in the inning.
The Cowgirls tied the game in the bottom half of the inning as Owens doubled, then scored on a Snoke infield single.
The Dalles then scored a pair of runs in the sixth as LeBriton and Troutt both blasted solo homers.
The Cowgirls answered again in the bottom half of the inning as Coffelt blasted the first home run of her career.
However, the Cowgirls still trailed by a run.
The Dalles had a chance to put the game out of reach in the seventh. A pair of infield singles and a long fly out to the wall gave the Riverhawks runners on second and third with two outs.
The Cowgirls then intentionally walked Troutt before Puckett forced Lauryn Belanger into a ground ball to second base for the final out of the inning.
With one out in the seventh and trailing by a run, Owens singled up the middle. Puckett was then hit by a pitch before Snook grounded into a fielder's choice for the second out of the inning.
A Martinez walk loaded the bases, bringing Vaughan to the plate.
And she delivered, ripping a hard single to right field that scored the game-winning runs.
"It was awesome," Vaughan said of her hit. "I couldn't have asked for a better outcome. That was pretty awesome to beat the fourth-ranked team in the state."
The Cowgirls finished with 18 hits in the game, but gave up 15 hits and survived seven errors.
"Considering that The Dalles was fourth in the state, we knew that we had to step it up and keep hitting," said Owens, who had seven hits on the day. "After we switched positions with players, I think that we were all playing for fun and we just had more energy."
Coach Puckett was pleased with the outcome despite the mistakes that the Cowgirls made.
"We gave up several runs that shouldn't have happened," he said. "We made some errors, but they were resilient, and they didn't get themselves down and continued to battle until the end. It's huge. They are capable of competing with these teams and beating these teams. I'm super proud of them."
The Cowgirls, 8-14, 1-10, are at Hood River Valley, 15-6, 7-4, which is ranked second in the state, today. Then go on the road again on Friday to take on the No. 1-ranked Ridgeview Ravens, 16-2, 9-2, in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m.
The Cowgirls then close out their season next Tuesday, May 14, when they host the Redmond Panthers, 9-12, 3-8, in a 4:30 p.m. game.
The Dalles 15, Crook County 4
The Dalles 303 225 — 15 22 3
Crook County 002 020 — 4 5 5
Crook County 13, The Dalles 12
The Dalles 202 242 0 — 12 15 5
Crook County 200 711 2 — 13 18 6
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