The girls softball team has rounded the first corner of the season into conference play with wins over Nooksack Valley and Lynden Christian and a loss against Burlington-Edison.
The home game against Nooksack Valley on March 28 featured a dominant display by ace pitcher Ashley Bolick, a game-saving final out from pitcher Hannah Kiele, and a 6-5 win against the 1A rivals that knocked coach Alisa Burk’s team out of playoff contention back in 2004 when she was a softball star for Blaine.
“Ever since I played against them in high school I’ve had a bit of a personal vendetta against Nooksack Valley,” Burk said,
“so it feels extra sweet to beat them.”
Burk said her team talked about limiting Nooksack Valley’s four leadoff hitters, and Bolick was able to do that throughout most of the game.
“For six innings, she was pretty much lights out,” Burk said. Bolick allowed one run in the first inning, then threw five consecutive hitless innings before the Nooksack Valley bats got going again in the seventh.
“It wasn’t that Bolick got tired – their hitters got comfortable,” Burk said. “Nooksack Valley’s a good team, and they made the adjustments they needed to get themselves back in the game.”
Nooksack Valley scored four runs in the seventh inning, bringing the score to 6-5 Blaine. The momentum shift gave Nooksack Valley a glimmer of hope, but it came too late in the game for the Pioneers. With two outs and the tying run on second base, Burk brought in Kiele to put an end to Nooksack Valley’s hitting streak. A few pitches after taking the mound, Kiele pitched a high fastball, which the batter got a piece of. The ball arched over the mound right into second baseman Nicole Ortega’s glove to end the game.
“It shows how much stronger we are physically and mentally this year that we were able to battle through that high-pressure situation,” Burk said. “It was also a huge learning experience for Hannah Kiele because there was a lot on the line, but she handled the pressure very well.”
On offense, Blaine had 10 hits, six RBI’s, two strikeouts and two doubles. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning, Lexi Greguski hit a base-clearing double to earn three RBI’s.
“That was the hit that made the difference,” Burk said. “We got our offense going and they couldn’t keep up.”
Burk said Nooksack Valley makes a good friendly rivalry, but Mount Baker will be a harder test for Blaine, one that Burk thinks her team can handle.
“We’re a lot more seasoned this year,” she said. With eight juniors and seniors who are confidently taking on leadership roles, Burk said the season is going well heading into spring break. The Borderites won’t face Mount Baker until April 30.
Blaine’s next match will be an alumni game pitting the current team against any previous Borderite athletes who want to take the field again.
That group includes Burk, who said she’ll give the current Borderites a run for their money.
“I’m looking forward to showing them some of the intensity I’ve always played with,” she said, “so it will be a teaching opportunity, but it will also be a lot of fun.”
The alumni game is scheduled for Wednesday, April 3 on Pipeline Field at 5:30 p.m. The Borderites are 2-1 in conference play, 5-1 overall.