The Niceville softball team's longest losing streak of the year is over. It lasted only two games.
CRESTVIEW — The Niceville softball team’s longest losing streak of the year is over. It lasted only two games. Such is life for the second best 7A softball team in the state, according to MaxPreps.
Seeking to right a ship, which was rocking only slightly, coach Danny Hensley’s Eagles jumped all over district rival Crestview in a 12-0 run-rule victory Tuesday night in Crestview.
“I thought we came out and swung the bat early,” Hensley said. “There was discipline at the plate. We made ’em throw the ball over the plate and they did, which we took advantage of. I think we set the tempo early.”
Tempo and then some.
Senior Raiven Bryant dropped the second pitch of the ballgame into shallow center for a leadoff single, queuing up an offense that dropped in 13 base hits. Sydney Byrd followed with a RBI double into the left-center gap to bring home Bryant and make it 1-0. Blake Eslinger brought Byrd home with a single for 2-0 lead.
A passed ball and an error on Crestview’s shortstop made it 3-0. Bulldog coach Dwayne Davis said his team all but quit after that.
“We started out, we were fired up, but once we made those errors, we just gave up,” Davis said. “We just stopped. We know Niceville. We know they’re good. You start making errors like that against a team like that, they’re gonna capitalize on it.”
Given the team’s performance the night before, Davis said Tuesday’s loss was especially displeasing.
Monday, the Bulldogs (3-12 overall, 0-4 District 2-7A) hung tough in 13-10 loss to an Ohio-based school at the Beach Bash softball tournament. Gabbie Riley hit a grand slam, and Gracie Edge hit her first home run of the season.
“It was a battle. We went 10 innings with ’em last night,” Davis said. “We hit the ball well last night, but tonight was a completely different ball team.”
Tuesday, Crestview’s hitting disappeared almost entirely. Riley turned a single, the Bulldogs’ only hit, into scoring position late in the fourth inning on a Niceville fielding error, though nothing came of it.
“We were just a different ball team tonight,” Davis said. “I really don’t have too much good to take away from this. If the girls hadn’t given up, it would have been a different story.”
The story Niceville (10-4, 3-0) wrote Tuesday night included five extra-base hits (two by Byrd for a game-high three RBIs), dominant pitching and Carly Kidder’s diving catch for the final out in the bottom of the first inning. Even better, it came after the Eagles blew a narrow 2-1 lead in Monday’s game against Baker with walks, hit batters and kicked balls for a 7-3 loss.
Hensley was particularly proud of the way his pitching responded. Starter Mikhala Hampton, who lost a 3-1 complete game to Holmes County this past Friday despite allowing only two hits, was gifted with 10 runs of support in her three innings on the mound. Hampton allowed just two base runners with two strikeouts before giving way to reliever Emma Langston.
“Obviously, when you put two or three on the board early, you kinda put your pitchers in a good comfortable position where they don’t have so much pressure on ’em,” Hensley said. “We were able to work the ball in and out. We didn’t strike out a lot of people, but they missed the bat head quite a bit and gave our defense a chance to play.
“I thought it was a very solid effort on our kids part tonight.”
Up next, Niceville returns to action at 6 p.m. Friday, hosting Navarre. Crestview, meanwhile, is set to host Milton at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.