By Sam Herder
Journal Sports Editor
After a quick 2-0 start in the first inning, the Devils Lake softball team (0-7) struggled to string together hits the rest of the game in Tuesday's 7-3 loss to Eastern Dakota Conference opponent Grand Forks Central (1-7).

By Sam Herder
Journal Sports Editor
After a quick 2-0 start in the first inning, the Devils Lake softball team (0-7) struggled to string together hits the rest of the game in Tuesday’s 7-3 loss to Eastern Dakota Conference opponent Grand Forks Central (1-7).
“I thought mostly we played pretty well,” Firebirds head coach Patrick Neumann said. “We came out in the first inning and put up a couple runs. They were hitting the ball well. Their pitcher is not as quick of a pitcher as we’ve seen. She had a little movement, but not as much speed and we struggled to adjust to that.”
The top of the order produced for the Firebirds in the first inning with their first four batters getting on base. An Alex Palmer single moved Cassidy Saari to third, then Krista Waldo drove Saari home with her first of two hits in the game.
Palmer later crossed home plate on a wild pitch as DL took a quick 2-0.
But the Knights used innings 2-4 to take control of the game while the bats of Devils Lake cooled off.
Central scored one run in the second, three in the third and tacked on one more in the fourth for a 5-3 lead.
“We made a few errors on defense and that’s where they capitalized,” Neumann said. “They were able to take advantage of that.”
DL’s third run came in the third inning when Alysha Moser’s double scored Waldo.
The Firebirds had a chance to reduce the 5-3 deficit in the fifth inning with runners on second and third and no outs. But Central pitcher Willow Rynestad got out of the jam with three straight outs.
“We had some long fly balls and a couple hard hit balls right at girls,” Neumann said. “They made a couple nice plays, too. Their center fielder covered a lot of ground to get to one that could’ve been a single for us and keeps a rally going.”
DL totaled five hits and put the ball in play, but never seemed to find a hole in the defense. Seven base runners were left on base in the game.
Hannah Pesek pitched all seven innings for the Firebirds, giving up eight hits, walking five batters and striking out two.
DL will search for its first win Thursday at Grand Forks Red River. Neumann said big strides since the beginning of the season are noticeable.
“We’re starting to relax,” Neumann said. “We were playing so tense on defense and weren’t able to relax. As far as batting goes, we’ve been hitting the ball all year. We just haven’t been getting them in bunches. The other thing we haven’t been able to do is take walks. We won’t strike out a lot, but we rarely take a walk and that’s something we’re working on.”