EVELETH — The No. 3 seeded Eveleth-Gilbert softball team took care of business on Tuesday afternoon in their playoff opener, beating Pine City 11-1 in six innings by the ten-run rule.
The Golden Bears got off to a quick start, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Starting pitcher Lydia Delich was hit by a pitch and Lizzy Fultz came in as a pinch runner for the pitcher. Fultz stole second base, went to third on a fielder's choice and came across to score when Emily Kemp ripped a single. The Golden Bears added to their lead when Kemp scored on a Dragons error.
Delich didn’t waste any time in the top of the second inning striking out three hitters quickly.
Eveleth-Gilbert added to their lead in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Lauren Lautigar struck out but reached first base when the ball was dropped behind the plate. Joey Westby was then hit by a pitch. With two runners on, Anna Westby hit a double to the fence that scored a pair of runs to grab a 4-0 lead.
They weren’t done yet.
Brooke Thyen hit a single to score Westby and make it a 5-0 Golden Bars lead.
“It was good to get off to a strong start like we did,” Eveleth-Gilbert coach Paula Dundas said. “We were doing the right thing and swinging at the good pitches and moving the runners.”
The Dragons got their first hit of the game in the top of the third inning when right fielder Robin Odegard took a Delich pitch and hit it over the left-center field fence for a home run to make it 5-1.
Delich struck out the next two hitters and then got Lillie Struss to ground out to end the inning.
Delich gave up a pair of singles in the top of the fourth inning but the Golden Bears defense would not let the runners get past second base.
Eveleth-Gilbert made it a 6-1 game in the home half of the fourth when Delich walked and Fultz ran for her again. She came around to score when Anna Westby ripped a double down the line.
The fourth inning was the last inning on the mound for Delich. She went four innings, gave up one run, gave up three hits and struck out six. Taylor Morley took over on the mound in the top of the fifth inning.
“We wanted to let both pitchers get a little work today,” Dundas said. “They both threw really well out there.”
The Golden Bears came to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning and put two more runs on the board.
Brooklyn Smith hit a triple to deep right field and she then came across to score when Morley grounded out. Lautigar walked, stole second, and scored when Joey Westby hit a double.
The inning ended when Westby tried to run to third but was thrown out and the Golden Bears lead was 8-1.
“It was two more runs we could use,” Dundas said. “They were moving our runners and it paid off.”
The Dragons tried to get something going in the sixth inning when Struss was walked. Lydia Blatz came up next and hit a grounder to Anna Westby at second base who picked up the ball, tossed it to shortstop Thyen, who fired it to Kemp at first base to turn the 6-4-3 double play.
“That’s the third one we’ve turned this year,” Dundas said. “We’ve worked on it and it paid off.”
Morley gave up a double in the top of the sixth buth the Dragons could not get a run across the plate.
The Golden Bears ended the game in the bottom of the sixth when Delich hit a triple, scored on an Anna Westby hit.
The Golden Bears made it a 10-1 contest when Alex Flannigan hit a sacrifice fly to right field.
They then ended the game when Brooklyn Smith ripped a single to the outfield to score the 11th run and end the game by the 10-run rule.
“Like I said, we did a lot of good things out there today,” Dundas said. “Now we have to get ready for Thursday and come out and play like we did today.”
The win sends Eveleth-Gilbert to the next round on Thursday in Cloquet. They’ll take on Aitkin at 3:30 p.m. and play another game after, win or lose, at 5:30 p.m. against the winner or loser of Esko and Mora.