By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
A softball game that was recently scheduled to give two playoff bound teams an extra game to tune-up for the postseason turned into a hotly contested, tight ballgame, featuring a pitching dual and solid defense from both squads.
In the end, Del Norte High ended a scoreless game with a run in the bottom of the 12th inning for a 1-0 win against Gold Beach, Ore. at home on Friday.
The victory improves the Warriors to 21-3 for the year. The Panthers dropped to 21-3 for the season, with one of the losses coming earlier in the season against Del Norte in Oregon.
Neither team could seem to get a hit off of Warriors pitcher Alyssa Bergquist or Panthers pitcher Molly Hockma, who were both dominating, as the game went into extra innings.
For the contest, Bergquist allowed only three hits and had five strikeouts.
"She stayed strong the whole game," assistant coach Delores Markussen said. "She pitched a stellar game. Her endurance was great."
Hockma, who had six strikeouts, gave Del Norte very fewchances to make contact, pitching in a very fast manner. The Warriors could not seem to hit her.
No one got a hit off Hockma until the sixth inning, when Jessica Morrow hit a double. Morrow was also dominating on the field, hustling for a number of balls, including a diving grab into the dirt that got a hearty cheer from the crowd.
While the Warriors had a few chances to potentially score, nothing panned ut.
Coach Jackie Heuberger commended Morrow for her strong game.
"She played the game of her life today," she said.
As the the contest got into extra innings, with neither pitcher giving any signs of tapering off, it became obvious the game was going to go on for awhile
As the extra innings went on, neither team could get anything going on offense.
That is, until the bottom of the 12th inning.
The first batter up for Del Norte, Michelle Stacey, laced a ball into center field, good enough for an apparent double, but Stacey went for third base and made a sliding attempt to barely beat the tag.
The next batter, Lauryn Lesina, made a terrific bunt up the first base line, which brought in Stacey for the win, as the bench from Del Norte cleared in celebration.
The crowd warmly cheered for both teams, knowing they had witnessed a top-notch ball game by two strong playoff- bound teams.
Before they left the field, the Warriors made a cheer of "NCS here we come," as the team awaits the announcement of where and who they will play in the first round of the North Coast Section playoffs.
Heuberger will drive to the Bay Area to find out on Sunday. It appears there is a very good chance the game will be in Crescent City, and will occur on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Heuberger said she was extremely proud of how her team played. Even when they struck out, or did not make a play, she said her squad remained positive and did not lose their enthusiasm or momentum until the game ended.
To her, facing a tough pitcher like Hockma will prepare her team for the first-rate competition they will face in the playoffs.
"They were totally focused for the the five extra innings," she said. "They saw the hard work they put in was worth it."