MESQUITE – After allowing two runs in the top of the first inning Saturday in the third-fourth place game of the Virgin Valley Tournament, the Elko softball team went on 9-0 run against the tourney hosts.
The Lady Indians finished the contest on a 9-3 stretch and defeated the Lady Bulldogs by a final score of 9-5.
Virgin Valley woke up home the crowd in the top of the first with a crushing, two-run crank by Taylor Barnum that scored her and Kari Wakefield for a 2-0 lead.
Elko bounced back from the bomb in the bottom half, taking a two-run lead.
Senior Mollie Gallagher led off with a double and scored on a wild pitch.
The game was tied with an RBI single by junior Jacqueline Pete, driving in junior Kenzie Ratliff.
Elko plated runs on the next two at-bats, junior Lauryn Guenin sending a fly ball to right field that fell on an error – junior Kaitlyn Rizo rolling to the plate.
Sophomore Caresse Basaraba drove in Pete with a sacrifice fly, giving the Lady Indians a 4-2 lead.
Virgin Valley was sat down one-two-three in the top of the second, and Elko took a 5-2 advantage in the bottom of the second with an RBI single on a fly ball to center by Pete that brought home Gallagher.
The Lady Indians overcame a single and a walk in the top of the third inning, ending the frame with a groundout to Pete at shortstop.
Basaraba and senior Riley Harris each drew walks in the bottom of the third, and an error in right field on a fly ball by sophomore Breanna Whitted allowed Basaraba to cruise in for a 6-2 lead.
Elko went up 7-2 on an RBI single by Gallagher to center field on a rope, bringing home Harris.
Freshman Emery Lesbo scored a run from an error at shortstop on a grounder by Ratliff, the Lady Indians extending to a six-run cushion at 8-2.
Rizo drew a walk to load the bases, and Pete earned a free pass with the paths juiced – sending in Gallagher for a 9-2 advantage.
Elko left the bases loaded with one out, hitting into an inning-ending double play.
After committing back-to-back errors to start the top of the fifth, Elko’s defense came up big.
Whitted struck out a batter and the Lady Indians turned a 5-4 double play with a fielder’s choice by Harris at third, sending a throw to Gallagher at second base – ending the threat.
Elko placed two runners on base with one out in the bottom half – junior Alexis Elquist hitting a single and Harris wearing a pitch – but the Lady Indians stranded both with a fly out and a groundout.
The Lady Bulldogs attempted a comeback in the top of the fifth, Barnum driving in Ally Wright and Calee Clem scoring on an error in right field, cutting the lead to five at 9-4.
Virgin Valley’s courtesy runner inched into the deficit further, scoring on a wild pitch, but Whitted recorded a K for the second out and forced a groundout to Gallagher to end the game.
Elko closed the show with a 9-5 victory to take third place in the Virgin Valley Tournament, finishing with a 3-1 record.
Pete finished 2-for-2 and led the Lady Indians with three RBIs, tying Virgin Valley’s Barnum for the game high in runs driven in – two of Barnum’s RBIs coming on her home run in the first inning.
Gallagher scored a game-high three runs for Elko – finishing 3-for-4 at the plate – topping the roster in hits and nailing Elko’s only extra-base hit of the game with her double.
Clem joined Barnum with a 2-for-3 day at the plate for the Lady Bulldogs.
Whitted went the distance for the Lady Indians on the mound, allowing five runs on six hits over five innings – striking out five batters and walking two.
The Lady Indians will enter their bye week, opening league play of the Division 3A North on the road at 3 p.m. March 23 in Dayton.