Some first games pack more intrigue than others.
Consider the Cougars, who were young and inexperienced at the Class 4A varsity level, facing off against an experienced group from perennial 3A power Platte Canyon.
You gotta love being young.
“I was kind of expecting some first-game jitters, but I thought defensively we just played lights out,” Evergreen coach Scott Haebe said after the Cougars scored a well earned 7-2 nonleague season-opening victory Aug. 26.
Behind a very steady pitching performance from the aptly named Breeze Philips, the Cougars were given plenty of time to figure out Huskies ace Jessie Marshall and jump on her for four runs in the fourth inning.
The goods things began to snowball for the Cougars from there, while the Huskies found themselves swept away in an ultimately forgettable performance.
“There were a lot of nerves,” Philips said, smiling. “When our team started hitting, that kind of calmed me down a bit. When we started getting the first runs in, that was nice.”
Philips allowed just four hits. She walked one and struck out one, thriving on her placement rather than her power.
“She’s got great placement,” Haebe said. “She keeps the ball where she wants it.”
Philips saved her power for using at the plate as she went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. First baseman Amanda Lanning was 2-for-4 and third baseman Natalie Elmgreen cracked a two-run ground-rule double in the fifth inning.
Bailey Doctor drove in a run and scored twice for the Cougars and Sammie Keitlen hit a run-scoring single off reliever Courtney Kinnett in the fifth inning.
The Cougars led 7-0 after five innings to chase Marshall and take complete control.
Marshall brushed off a so-so first inning to stroll through the second and third innings, facing the minimum in each. Then the proverbial wheels got loose in the fourth and fell off in the fifth.
“We didn’t play very well. Period,” said first-year Huskies coach and former assistant Mike Pucherelli. “Our pitcher should be more dominant than she was.”
And the fielding could have been better.
The Huskies committed three errors, had a wild pitch and a passed ball to add fuel to Evergreen’s four-run fire in the fourth. Three of the runs were unearned.
“They get down when that happens,” Pucherelli said.
The Huskies finally got mad and scratched out two runs in the top of the sixth, following a leadoff double by Katie East.
Kinnett followed with a single to left field and Jessie Marshall and Ashley Owens had an RBI apiece as the Huskies avoided being whitewashed.
Platte Canyon 000 002 0 2 4 4
Evergreen 000 430 x 7 8 2
Platte Canyon: Jen. Marshall ss 3-0-0-0, East cf 3-1-1-0, Kinnett 1b-rp 3-1-1-0, Jes. Marshall sp-1b 3-0-0-1, Voskamp 3b-lf 3-0-1-0, Owens 2b 1-0-0-1, Raumbaugh c 3-0-0-0, Tiedemann lf 1-0-0-0, Ivarson 3b 2-0-0-0, Braumigan rf 3-0-1-0. Totals 25-2-4-2.
Evergreen: Martin c 4-0-0-0, Philips p 4-2-3-0, Doctor ss 4-2-1-1, Lanning 1b 4-1-2-1, Harris pr 0-1-0-0, Elmgreen 3b 2-1-1-2, Keitlen 2b 3-0-1-1, Ryan rf 3-0-0-0, Riggio lf 3-0-0-0, Bronsen cf 3-0-0-0. Totals 30-7-8-5.
E – Voskamp, Owens, Braumigan, Ivarson, Doctor, Keitlen. LOB – Platte Canyon 5, Evergreen 5. CS – Owens. SAC – Owens, Elmgreen. 2B – East, Elmgreen.