ANACONDA -- Behind aggression on the basepaths and patience at the plate, the Anaconda softball team was able to put together a big first inning on the way to a big win over visiting Thompson Falls, Saturday afternoon at the Charlotte Yeoman Martin Softball Complex.
The host 'Heads swiped three bases in the first inning, were able to grab an extra base on wild pitches three times, and drew three walks on the way to a nine runs in the first inning of an 11-0 five-inning win over the Blue Hawks.
"In practices we've been telling them we've got to be aggressive, and we've got to learn to just go," Anaconda coach Dotsie Shafer said. "We practice sliding every day to make sure they're getting down, and getting dirty."
Four of the first five Anaconda batters reached in the first on two walks and two hit batters. The 'Heads were also helped out by four wild pitches in that stretch that led to a quick 2-0 lead.
Randee Jo Johnson had the big blow in the first by roping a two-run double to the gap in left-center to make it 4-0.
Anaconda kept at it following the double, including Kassandra Flores stealing home on a throw back to the pitcher to make it 6-0. Shelby Roche had an RBI single and catcher Hannah Schaefer hit a two-run single for the 9-0 lead after one.
"We want them to come out strong and stay strong," Shafer said. "Our new attitude is we've got to be aggressive on everything we do, and it seems to help and it seems to get them all moving."
The big first inning proved to be more than enough for junior pitcher Michaela Cortight, who tossed four innings, giving up one hit, walking three, and striking out seven.
The Blue Hawks looked to take a chunk out of the lead in the top of the second by putting the first three runners on via a single and two walks to load the bases.
But the lefty pitcher known as "Bubba" to teammates and fans buckled down by striking out the next three batters to end the threat. The Blue Hawks never threatened again, putting just one runner on over the final three innings.
"Michaela is very good at that," Shafer said of her pitcher escaping the jam. "She can get the bases loaded and she focuses. She's very strong in there, it's nice to have her get herself out of a hole. She's hard on herself, but she seems to be able to work her way back."
Anaconda brought the game to its final margin in the bottom of the third on an RBI ground-out from Schaefer, and an RBI single from Flores.
Schaefer finished with three RBIs to lead the Anaconda offense, while Sydnie Peterson was 2 for 2 with three runs scored. As a team Anaconda picked eight hits, and drew eight walks.
"We tell them that they have to have discipline," Shafer said. "We teach them that they need to stay in there and take the balls that are for you. We want them to make sure they're swinging at strikes and we want them to be disciplined.
"There's been a lot of work on that."
Haley Wilson had the lone hit for Thompson Falls, a single to lead-off the second inning.
The win pushes Anaconda's record to 9-3 on the year and with 11 games left on the schedule Shafer has been impressed with how the team has come together over the first half of the season.
"I think they're pretty solid," she said. "They seem to be doing real well. They work hard for us, they seem to be like a family out there, and that's what we need. That's what we preach, we're a family when we get inside the gates, we work on helping each other.
"It's a nice feeling to have them come together and work hard for each other."
The Copperheads return to the diamond at 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon for a home doubleheader against Mission.