By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
DEARBORN - North Platte scored four runs off of four walks and a two-run RBI double by sophomore pitcher Courtney Dehn - all in the first inning.
Those four runs, along with seven complete innings in the circle by Dehn, was enough for the Panthers (9-2) to beat North Andrew 4-1 in Dearborn Tuesday.
Dehn had a strong night, striking out five and walking only one. She set the Cardinals down 1-2-3 in the first, third, fourth and seventh innings.
"I just told myself that I have to continue to throw strikes and be consistent so they couldn't hit the ball and score," Dehn said.
Offensively, North Platte managed just two hits on the night, but they drew six walks from starting pitcher Madison Curran - four of them in the bottom of the first inning.
With two outs and nobody on in the first, the Panthers drew four consecutive walks. After a couple of passed balls scored the first two runs, Dehn hit a two-run RBI double to left to give North Platte an early 4-0 lead.
"Our game plan is to always come out early and attack when we can offensively," North Platte coach Farrah Seckel said, "and just do the best we can there to score as many runs as we can there up front, and everyone did really well there to get out on top."
North Andrew (13-3) managed three hits in the second and three more in the sixth. The Cardinals finally got on the board in the top of the sixth. An RBI double by freshman Piper Cook scored sophomore Katryna Warren.
The Cardinals had two runners in scoring position in the sixth with two outs, but a flyout ended the inning. North Platte went 1-2-3 in the sixth, but so did North Andrew in the top of the seventh, bringing the game to a quick end.
Dehn, who threw 84 pitches in the complete game victory, credits her defense for being largely mistake free throughout the night. It's also a defense that threw two North Andrew runners out at third base.
"It helped a lot," Dehn said of her defense, who committed just one error the whole night. "I rely on the defense a lot to back me up, because I'm very consistent, so it's easy for teams to get on me. So, I rely on them a lot."
North Andrew relief pitcher Katryna Warren, who went in for Curran in the second, threw four scoreless innings of relief for the Cardinals. She struck out seven and walked none. She struck out the side in the fourth inning.
To beat a North Andrew team in the midst of one of its best softball seasons in program history is not a feat that Seckel and her team take lightly.
"I'm just proud of these girls," said Seckel. "They're working really hard this year, and to come up against a team...we know they're no slouch. We knew coming into it that they'd be ready for us, so we were looking to come out and win this game."
North Platte heads to Savannah for a 4:30 game on Wednesday -a make-up game due to a rainout Monday.
North Andrew heads home to open the 32nd annual North Andrew softball tournament. The Cardinals, the No. 1 seed in that tournament, play the night cap against South Holt at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday.
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