Bull Dogs fall to Panthers in softball sectional

BLOOMINGTON — Columbus North was expecting to hit well in its Bloomington North Sectional game against Bloomington South on Tuesday after having what coach Ron McDonald thought was a great day of hitting practice on Monday.

Tuesday’s game did not go as planned for the Bull Dogs, however. They didn’t get a hit until Lilly Hurt’s seventh inning single in an 8-0 loss.

McDonald thought North hit the ball well against Panthers pitcher Addie Benham the last time they saw her, but she recorded 11 strikeouts against the Bull Dogs this time around.

“Earlier in the season, (Benham) only lasted two or three innings against us, we hit her so well,” McDonald said. “So we really thought we had a great shot tonight coming in. I’m just really really disappointed that we didn’t pull it off.”

Bloomington South (7-13) started the game with three runs in the first inning and scored four more in the second. The Panthers scored their eighth run in the fifth.

North (1-25) came close to scoring a run of its own in the bottom of the sixth. Two walks and a stolen base by Brooke Bruin put her at third base. But Benham came through with a strikeout, keeping the Bull Dogs scoreless.

“You have to give credit to their pitcher,” McDonald said. “She pitched a great game, and we swung on a lot of bad pitches.”

The first round sectional loss ends the season for the Bull Dogs, and they will say goodbye to seniors Kaitlin Panning and pitcher Madisyn Prince. Prince missed much of the season battling back from an ACL injury and McDonald said it was amazing that she came back as early as she did.

“She gave us everything she had. Her and Kaitlin anchored our beginning here,” McDonald said. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to come back and share when we start turning this around and know that they were a part of something that we started this year.”

North had just one win on the season but McDonald is looking forward to grooming the young talent he has coming back next season and the seasons to come.

“It’s probably one of the longest years I’ve ever had,” he said. “But we have everybody coming back, and we have some help coming from lower grades up. We think we can flip flop this season, and hopefully, we can work hard in the offseason to get there.”

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.