By Lukas Eggen Ely Times Staff Writer

The White Pine High softball team dropped three games to Elko last weekend, falling 9-3, 4-3 and 9-5, snapping the team’s win streak at 10.

“We learned that we can’t come out sluggish,” coach Krystal Smith said. “We lacked intensity in early innings, causing us to fall behind and having to play catch up. Against good teams, which we will continue to see in the post season, we need to get ahead early and play with the lead.”

Facing what Smith said was the team’s toughest test of the season to date, the Ladycats saw Elko jump out to leads and White Pine was unable to make up the difference. The three games also broke the team’s seven-game shutout streak.

“Our defense didn’t come to play this weekend,” Smith said. “We gave up too many unearned runs to a team of strong hitters. That put the ball in play regularly. When a team hits that well, I expected our defense to step up which didn’t happen in the early innings.”

Bailey Moore pitched all three games for the Ladycats. Smith said despite the losses, there were positives to build on. Teal Hussey played catcher and had a two-run home run during the series. Moore also hit a home run and Smith said she was pleased with the way the team kept fighting.

“We continued to fight, even when down in late innings,” Smith said. “We never gave up and continued to compete when things looked bleak.”

White Pine continues its road trip, playing at Spring Creek this weekend, where Smith is looking for the team to bounce back from last weekend.

“I’d like to think that this weekend was a bump in the road,” Smith said. “We have played solid defense for the past three weeks and I’m anticipating our lesson learned this weekend was just a temporary set-back. We need to build consistent hitting, as at times the top of our line-up contributes well, and other games the bottom of our line-up carries us. Once we become consistent hitters one through nine, we will continue to put tremendous pressure on defenses.”

While White Pine came away from its series against Elko without a win, Smith said the team has its eyes set on learning from the losses and continuing to march toward a return to the State Championship game.

“First, we need to stay healthy,” Smith said. “We have a dynamic group of girls, who work hard, believe in the process and are dedicated to earning a trip back to the state championship game. Besides for that, playing in close games will strengthen us mentally and physically. I’m excited to see how we respond to the adversity of last weekend. It will tell a lot about our current level of mental maturity and toughness.”

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