Del Norte loses three-run lead, falls in eighth to Fortuna in HDN League opener
The Del Norte High softball team looked to have things under control when sophomore Colleen Markussen stepped into the pitcher's circle in the fifth inning Wednesday evening at Del Norte High School.
Warriors starting pitcher Camryn Ridgley no-hit Fortuna High through the game's first four innings, striking out three. The Del Norte bats were coming around on Huskies starter Morgan Harwood's pitches, and the Warriors held a 3-0 lead and all imaginable momentum.
Ultimately, what Del Norte had, it could not sustain.
Fortuna tagged Markussen for three runs in the fifth inning, then capitalized on defensive errors by the Warriors in extra innings to win, 6-3, in eight innings.
The Huskies improved to 10-3 overall (3-0 Humboldt-Del Norte League) with the victory. Del Norte dropped to 4-8-1 overall and 0-1 in HDN play.
"It's a loss, but I'll take it," Warriors head coach Tom Moore said. "We played eight innings of ball against a damn good team. Not bad."
Harwood, a sophomore, went the distance for Fortuna, allowing eight hits to Warriors batters while striking out 10. Markussen allowed five hits and six runs (two earned) in absorbing the loss.
"That was a battle between three strong pitchers right there," Moore said.
Del Norte second baseman Sammy Morrow tagged Harwood with two runners on in the second inning. Morrow's RBI single plated Marissa Van Dyke; Ridgley would score when the Huskies' centerfielder misplayed the ball.
Van Dyke paid her run forward with an RBI single in the third inning, scoring rightfielder Regin Loftin. The Warriors would place runners on second and third later in the inning but left them stranded.
Moore opted to substitute Markussen in for Ridgley in the fifth inning to give Fortuna a look at a different pitcher, in case they had picked up any of Ridgley's tendencies.
"It wasn't because Cam was throwing bad," he said. "We've got two or three people throwing seven, eight (different) pitches."
Fortuna's Courtney Christensen hit an RBI single off Markussen in the fifth to put the Huskies on the board. With two runners on and two outs, Kait Sigler hit a fly ball to right field. Loftin dropped the ball, and two more runs came across the plate.
Harwood and the Fortuna defense retired Del Norte in order in the sixth and seventh innings, setting up the extra-innings situation.
"They were too much in our heads," Markussen said. "(We were) kind of scared, but we thought we had it."
Two more defensive errors would be the Warriors' undoing. After an RBI double by the Huskies' Emily Lourenzo in the eighth inning, Van Dyke threw away a grounder to third base, scoring another run. Later, catcher Kiera Davis attempted to catch Fortuna's Callie Hughes stealing third, but no one was covering the base. The ball went into left field, and Hughes scored.
Del Norte faces McKinleyville in a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at Del Norte High.
Reach Robert Husseman at email@example.com.