Lady Bulldogs win first conference game of season

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WHEATLAND – The Lady Bulldogs had never beaten a conference opponent since the inception of women’s sanctioned softball at Wheatland. Last week against the Camels from Campbell County, they got the monkey off their back.

Last week the Lady Bulldogs softball team was back in action at their home field against the Campbell County Camels and the Thunder Basin Bolts. The game against Campbell County was originally slated for Friday, but due to inclement weather in Gillette, the game was moved to Wheatland. During the first matchup the Wheatland Bulldogs seized victory in dramatic walk-off fashion, thanks to a single at the end of the game to topple the Camels.

The game was tied at three with Wheatland batting in the bottom of the seventh inning when Camryn Mickelsen singled on a 3-2 count, scoring the winning run. Mackenzie Lockman was on the mound for the Bulldogs and the fireballer allowed 12 hits and three runs over seven innings, striking out one and walking one.

Hunter Sisson launched her first career home run in the sixth inning, and it was the only home run of the game. Mickelsen went 2-for-4 at the plate to lead the Bulldogs in hits. Coach Jodie Fitzwater commended the Lady Bulldogs on their stellar defense throughout the game with only one error recorded. The players never gave up throughout and fought from behind to persevere for the upset.

This was the first time in the team’s history that the Lady Bulldogs walked away victorious against Campbell County. The second game of the twi-night doubleheader was not as kind to the Lady Bulldogs as they dropped the game 13-5. Trailing 4-2 going into the third, the Camels didn’t let it get close and came up with seven runs in the third.

During the Saturday doubleheader against the Thunder Basin Bolts, the weather was definitely not cooperating for either team. The 50-70 mph wind gusts remained constant, causing dirt to fly in fielders and batters faces as well as robbing hits from batters. Many hit balls were blown beyond the fence lines and play had to be halted several times as players turned their backs to the gusting sand.

The game was a heartbreaker for the Bulldogs, as they lost the lead late in the eighth inning in a 15-12 defeat. Despite the loss, the Bulldogs held true to not giving up throughout the game. They continued to battle back each inning and were able to score seven runs in the seventh inning to tie the game at 11. Hunter Sisson laid down a sacrifice bunt to score the game tying run for the Bulldogs.

The Lady Bulldogs tallied 18 hits during the game. Rylee Coates, Eleni McKee, Mickelsen, Lockman, Delaney Aurich, and Karley Adams each had multiple hits for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were also aggressive on the base paths with multiple stolen bases. Mickelsen led the team with two steals during the game. Wheatland also topped Thunder Basin defensively, only allowing three errors in the game compared to their five.

“Eleni McKee made an outstanding diving catch at second base,” Fitzwater said. “Also worth mentioning are Rylee and Cam as they continue to make pick off plays between catcher and third base as well as catching the opposing team in run downs.”

Lockman started the game for the Bulldogs in the circle. She lasted five innings, allowing 14 hits and 10 runs while striking out four and walking one. Delaney Aurich was brought in to pitch three innings in relief to finish out the game.

As the wind was taken out of the sails of the girls with the first game loss, they never recovered and dropped the second game by a score of 21-3.

“The entire coaching staff is very proud of these players and are excited to see what the season continues to bring,” Fitzwater said. “One thing for sure is that these ladies are turning heads across the state as they continue to battle it out against the larger schools in their conference. The Lady Bulldogs will have a busy week ahead, if the weather cooperates. With the snow coming in, all games are to be determined.”