GOODING — The Gooding High School softball team is young and under new management, but also picking up steam.
After three losses to open the season, the Senators took both parts of a home doubleheader against Buhl on Thursday, following up a 5-4 win with a 12-6 victory that nearly ended as a run-rule decision.
Both winning efforts were led on the mound by a duo of sophomore pitchers.
Mallory Brown pitched four shutout innings to start the game, while her team added four runs in support. Kassie Adkinson backed her up to start the fifth inning, but allowed three runs that inning and another only an out into the sixth, as Aubrey Mahannah ripped a triple that plated Madison Somers.
The Senators went back to Brown, and she added another 1.2 innings of shutout work.
The game-winner for Gooding wasn’t a walkoff nor a big hit, but a 4-3 putout off a grounder by Cassidy Weaver that scored Taylor Norby in the sixth frame.
Weaver also led the Senator batters in the first game overall with a 2-for-4 performance, knocking in two runners and scoring a run herself. Buhl was held to only three hits in the game, all off of Adkinson.
Gooding got more breathing room in the second game, as it followed up a five-run third frame with a three-run fourth, jumping out to an 8-3 lead.
The game featured a couple hard knocks by Norby — one on a comebacker to the mound, and one that didn’t come back. Norby hit a soaring home run that had just enough juice to carry a couple yards past the right-field fence for her first career home run.
“I just thought to stay loose, hands to the ball, elbow back,” she said about her home run swing. “I don’t think you ever know you’re going to hit a home run, it just falls.”
Down 12-3 in the seventh inning, Buhl was able to rally for three more runs, but Kassie Adkinson pitched a couple strikeouts and a 5-3 putout in the last three at-bats to cut the potential comeback.
Brown and Adkinson combined for four earned runs and five strikeouts in the win. Brown and Victoria Urritia plated three runs each for the Senators, and Adkinson went 2-for-4 with a double at two RBIs at the plate.
Jordan Netz knocked in a triple and drew a walk in her 2-for-2 performance for Buhl.
Gooding’s season has progressed upward quickly, moving from back-to-back run-rule losses to Kuna and Kimberly to the six-run win over Buhl. First-year head coach Shawn Patterson said he’s glad to see his team settle in, but there’s a lot of work to be done.
“We’re really young,” he said. “I started one senior and one junior. The rest are sophomores and freshmen, so we’re young. We’re learning.”
Not only that, but the team has barely touched their own field for practices this season.
“Last week, we had six inches of snow on our field,” Patterson said. “I know everyone that way has been on their fields, and we actually last Friday went to Hagerman to get on the field for the first time before we went to play a game at Kuna.”
Patterson, who moved to Gooding after serving as an assistant coach for Kuna’s softball team, said his young bunch — seven of the 11 players are freshmen and sophomores — are starting to not only gain a sense of solid play, but also a lot of confidence.
“I come from a program in Kuna where we’re accustomed to winning, and I think the girls are starting to believe that they can win,” he said. “It’s fun to see.”