CRESTVIEW — Nobody could blame the Crestview softball team for giving up before the season started.
The Bulldogs started the week with their third coach since the preseason. But instead of folding the tent and calling it a season, the girls have rallied together and pushed forward.
The Bulldog pride was on display Thursday night as Crestview beat Walton 9-3 in their home opener.
Kathy Combest, who has coached the team all of a week, was quick to give credit to her team for pushing through the adversity.
“What I told the girls my first day was, ‘Y’all have been playing this game your whole lives. You just know how to play it.
“‘Coaches are there just to guide you and help you pretty much, but you girls make every play. Us don’t coach don’t hit or field or throw, y’all do it all. If you just have the mentality it’s all about the team you will be alright.”
Team Bulldogs got a big boost from pitcher Kristin Bufkin. Bufkin struck out 10 Walton batters and limited the Braves to five hits.
With Bufkin pitching on cruise control through the first four innings the only thing the Bulldogs (2-0) were lacking were runs.
That changed in the bottom of the fourth when Crestview managed to manufacture four runs without getting a hit. Aggressive base running by the Bulldogs coupled with poor fielding by the Braves led to the big inning.
Kayla Kelch led off the Bulldog fourth by striking out, but when the ball got past Walton catcher Teresa Herndon on the third strike Kelch took first and headed for second as Herndon’s throw sailed into right field.
Taylor Rolison was next and she was safe on an error that allowed Kelch to score from second base. Rolison later scored as did Amber Bell, who reached on a walk, and Ragan Sowell, who was safe on one of three Brave errors in the inning.
A bit of sloppy fielding and misplayed balls by the Bulldogs coupled with a couple of timely hits allowed the Braves to score three runs in the top of the fifth. A Ravin Motley double drove in two Braves runs.
With one out it looked as if Walton was threatening to score some more, but Bufkin shook off the rough spot and struck out the last two batters of the inning to escape further damage.
After being held hitless for four innings the Bulldogs finally found the gaps in their last two at bats connecting for seven hits.
Crestview put the game out of reach with a 5-run sixth inning.
Kelch had the big blow of the inning, a two-run triple to score Kylene Day and Molly Woodward. Kelch scored on a Rolison hit.
The Bulldogs even managed to pull off a double steal in the inning as Rolison stole home on the back end of the play.
Kelch and Rolison each had two hits to pace the Bulldog attack. Woodward, Bufkin and Bell also had hits for Crestview.
The Bulldogs return to action Tuesday when they host Baker.