For the first four innings of their season-opener against Highland High, it was smooth sailing for the OTHS girls softball squad.
The visiting Bulldogs lived up to their moniker, however, battling back from a 4-0 deficit in the late stages of last Thursday’s game to hang an extra inning loss on the Panthers, 5-4.
OTHS junior starter Addison Barnouski held the Bulldogs in check through the first four innings, giving her teammates a chance to solve Highland pitcher Jenna Gnaedinger. In their third at-bat, the Lady Panthers erupted for four runs. Allison Underwood’s double and Taylor VanAusdall’s 2-run single were the key blows in the uprising that propelled the Panthers into the lead. Underwood would finish the afternoon with three hits in four plate appearances, including a pair of doubles.
After the 4-run third, Barnouski retired the Bulldogs in the fourth, but in the fifth inning the visitors came roaring back, plating three runs. Hannah Miener’s extra base hit off Barnouski keyed the Highland comeback which was completed in the next frame when another runner crossed the plate to knot the score at 4-4.
Both starting pitchers went the distance in the contest that was extended into an extra frame when neither team could score in the seventh. The Bulldogs made their comeback complete in the top of the eighth when they pushed across the game-winner. The Lady Panthers could not respond in their at-bat, forcing them to absorb an opening day loss.
This week the OTHS squad will focus on better results as they were scheduled to host Waterloo on Wednesday and travel to Moline for a double-header Saturday.