Columbus North may have lost its softball season opener Friday evening, but the difference from last year’s opener was night and day.

The Bull Dogs were more than competitive in a 7-4 loss against East Central in a game that was moved from East Central to Southside Elementary because of better field conditions.

Last year, North lost 24-4 and 27-3 in a season-opening doubleheader against South Dearborn on its way to a 1-25 season. The Bull Dogs did not commit an error Friday.

“A lot better than last year,” second-year North coach Ron McDonald said.

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The Bull Dogs outhit the Trojans 8-7. Junior catcher Bailey Lofton went 3 for 4 with a double and three RBIs, and sophomore third baseman Sierra Norman went 3 for 4 with a double.

North started four freshmen, including Megan Waggoner, who struck out six and walked six in her high school debut.

“I thought Megan pitched really well,” McDonald said. “She was so nervous, being a freshman coming in. She’s going to get better and better.”

Since the game was originally to be played at East Central, the Trojans were the home team. They reached Waggoner for four runs in the bottom of the second to take a 4-0 lead.

The Bull Dogs got on the board in the third. Brooke Bruin drew a one-out walk, went to second on a two-out single by Norman and scored when Lofton followed with a single.

East Central scored twice in the bottom of the third to take a 6-1 lead. North struck in the fifth when freshman center fielder Haley Acton homered off the scoreboard in left center, but the Trojans got the run back in the bottom of the inning and led 7-2 after five.

The Bull Dogs’ final two runs came in the seventh. Pinch hitter Teri Dale was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and went to third on a two-out double by Norman. Lofton then followed with a two-out single before Waggoner flied out to end it.

“We hit the ball, and that girl (East Central’s Megan Kincer) is a pretty good pitcher,” McDonald said. “I bet in a few weeks, we beat them. We’re capable of winning every game, but we’re capable of losing every game, too.”

North has little time to recover. The Bull Dogs are scheduled to play Terre Haute North at noon and Terre Haute South at 2 p.m., with both games being played at Terre Haute North.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.