By Jack Kintner
?Blaine head softball coach Don Ambrose kept looking at the clock while filling out his line-up card, but when the time came Tuesday afternoon for him to hand it to the umpire his pitcher, Alex Walter, still hadn’t arrived from a longer than expected doctor’s appointment.
“So we went with Caitlin [Dudley], and that turned out pretty good,” he said. Indeed, the sophomore pitcher, number two in the rotation behind Walter, pitched a three-hit shut-out, striking out 13 and driving in two of the three Blaine runs with a third inning double as Blaine took the measure of the undefeated Nooksack Pioneers 3-0.
“It was a lot of fun,” Dudley said, happy to be eclipsing older brother John as a local sports star. “It’s about time,” she laughed, adding that her rising fastball was working well for her Tuesday despite game-time temperatures more appropriate to the Yukon.
Dudley has also defeated Bellingham and has two losses, one against Mt. Baker where she got very little support because of an anemic team effort at the plate, and Ferndale, where Blaine made five errors.
Tuesday night Blaine committed only one error despite fielding a team that was five-ninths sophomores. Besides Dudley’s strong appearance on the mound, defensive gems were turned in by class of 2010 emerging stars like Sammy Wallace in right field and Amanda Moore on third base, Dudley’s spot when she isn’t pitching.
All the scoring for Blaine and most of the game’s hits were confined to the third inning. After Wallace and Janelle Gobbato both made outs, Kristen Stanovich hit a 0-2 pitch for a single.
Moore also got a base hit followed by Christina Ekstrom’s end-of-the-bat slice on a 3-1 fastball.
The Nooksack first baseman was playing well in toward home and, when Ekstrom poked it, lunged for the fading short fly only to have it bounce in foul territory and then zap back fair as if pulled by a rubber band out of her reach, its rapid spin imparted from the end of the bat as if it were a cue stick.
The ball rolled up against first before being fielded as a legal infield hit – the Nooksack first baseman never touched it in foul territory – and Stavnovich rolled home, giving Ekstrom a thundering 65-foot infield hit and an RBI, not bad.
Then Dudley came up and let the count go to 0-2 before swatting another fastball into the outfield for a double, scoring Moore and Ekstrom to provide her own cushion with two more RBI’s as Blaine coasted to another decisive victory.
“They’re beginning to believe they can win,” Ambrose said of the team that last year came within just two outs of a state tournament berth.
This game also marked the return from an early season injury for Taylor Trueblood, former Bellingham ace now a part of the Borderite legion. The Lady B’s next play Squalicum on the road before returning home Wednesday, April 9, to face Meridian at the Pipe.
Slivers from the bench...
Walter starting out fast
Blaine’s Alex Walter has started out the season fast as the franchise player for Blaine’s fastpitch team. In three days she went nine for 11 at the plate, including two doubles, a triple and a home run, scored seven times and batted in another 10, and against Squalicum pitched a two-hit 6-2 win that included 13 strike-outs.
Blaine’s fastpitch team has a 5-3 record and played next at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 27 where they faced Lynden Christian at the Pipe.
Blaine nine get first league win
The Borderite baseball team finally notched a league win last Monday with a 7-4 victory pitched by Greg Grasher. Blaine was outhit by the Lyncs 9-8 but managed to create runs by hooking together scoring opportunities led by Grasher’s going two for four at the plate and scoring a run himself as well. Dane Ulrich got two RBI’s on his one hit and Khalil Dhanani got one off a double plus scoring a run from second base.
Kyle Olason got the save as the Borderites improved to 1-1 in conference and 3-4 over all. They then played on the road Friday March 28 against Squalicum at Joe Martin Field in Bellingham, and on April fool’s day against Mt. Vernon before returning home Wednesday, April 2 against Meridian at 4:30 p.m. at the Pipe.
For the week of March 28
3-26 Blaine 6, Nooksack 0
3-27 Squalicum 6, Blaine 0
3-31 Mt. Vernon 4, Blaine 0
3-26 Nooksack 6, Blaine 4
4-1 Mt. Vernon 2, Blaine 0
3-25 Ferndale 6, Blaine 4
4-1 Blaine 3, Nooksack 0
3-25 Squalicum 6, Blaine 1
3-31 Squalicum 6, Blaine 1
3-28 Bedlington Twilight Meet in Lynden
Girls: Tahoma 147.6, Burlington 141, Sehome 135, Blaine 85.8, Lynden 56.33, Mt. Baker 38.5, Anacortes 31, Nooksack 25, Mt. Vernon Christian 23, Grace Academy 4.
Boys: Sehome 131, Burlington 114.67, Tahoma 112.5, Lynden 98.93, Blaine 90, Anacortes 71, Meridian 44, Grace Academy 14, Mount Baker 13, Mt. Vernon Christian 11, Nooksack 2.