The Van Meter Bulldogs softball team opened up their season on May 23 with a game against the Earlham Cardinals.


Unfortunately, the defending State Champion Bulldogs were not able to start the 2016-2017 season out as well as they ended the last. The Cardinals won the close game 8-7.


“Coming off of an incredible run like last year is going to be a challenge for our younger group due to the fact that expectations are high and every team is going to give us their best shot,” said coach James Flaws. “That team had a goal and accomplished it over multiple years and a lot of hard work and failure. This is a new team with a lot of potential.”


The Cardinals took the lead immediately when they had three runs in by the end of the first inning.


The second inning was just as hard as the first for the Bulldogs, but they were able to stop the Cardinals from getting another run in.


The Bulldogs finally picked up their game in the third inning. The first half was still tough, though. They allowed Taylor Hipsley a double and after a couple more hits by her fellow Cardinals, she was able to make it home.


The Cardinals were up 4-0 in the bottom of the third inning. Bulldog Molly Blomgren was the first up to bat, she hit a double, which was then followed by Lilly Thompson getting walked.


A couple more hits and Mackenzie Blomgren was up. Mackenzie Blomgren bunted the ball which put her on first and allowed Molly Blomgren to make it back home. The Bulldogs had their first run.


With a single and a double by Haley Forrett and Abby Archer, Thompson and Mackenzie Blomgren were able to make it back to the home plate. The Bulldogs were down by just one run at the end of the third inning.


The fourth inning was just like the second. Both teams were able to get a couple hits in, but neither could get in another run.


The Cardinals started the fifth inning out strong with Hipsley sending a ball outside the fence for a home run. Luckily for the Bulldogs, this was the only run the Cardinals got in.


In the bottom of the inning, with a double of her own, a single hit by Haley Forrett and a stolen base, Meagan Blomgren was able to make the Bulldogs’ one run. The Bulldogs were still down 5-4.


“A few players that stood out were Meagan Blomgren who had multiple stolen bases and two hits, her and twin sister Mackenzie will have to carry a lot more of the load to help us score this year,” said Flaws. “Haley Forret at short stop was very good. Abby Archer had two hits and was solid behind the plate. Our younger players Olivia Prouty (Fr), Molly Blomgren (8th), and Lilly Thompson (8th) all made key plays in their first start which is promising for our growth as a team.”


In the sixth inning, the Cardinals were able to get a couple hits, but all but one were out before they made it to first base. The Cardinals still did not get a run in.


The Bulldogs tied up the game when Bailey Harding made it around the bases. Mackenzie Blomgren put the Bulldogs ahead when she hit a triple then stole a base. The Bulldogs finally led the game 6-5.


Right away, in the seventh inning, the Cardinals had their first three batters make it to base. The bases were loaded and another hit by Emma Jensen gave the Cardinals their sixth run. The game was tied.


Another hit for the Cardinals and Mikailyn Holtry was sent home. One more run and the Cardinals were up 8-6.


The Bulldogs started the seventh inning with a couple hits as well. After a few, Abby Archer ran over the home plate for the final run of the game. The game end with the Cardinals winning 8-7.


“I was impressed with our fight. We trailed almost the whole night and were able to get a lead going into the seventh. I loved our aggressiveness on the base paths against a strong catcher. We weren’t as sharp defensively as we needed to be to win, but overall it was a glimpse at where we are after one game. Earlham is a solid team and they made more plays than we did last night, credit goes to them.”


The Bulldogs have another home game today, May 24, against Roosevelt at 7 p.m.