LYNDEN - Wins can come by many different means.
Tight games; long, drawn out games; high-scoring games; and then there's that win where everything comes together - where all three facets meet. That was the feeling coming from Lynden's dugout following a 10-1 Northwest Conference win over Nooksack Valley on Tuesday, April 22, in Lynden.
"That felt like the first time all year where we came out and pitched, played defense and had timely hitting," Lynden softball coach Steve Petersen said.
Lynden (8-3, 5-1 NWC) also rode the strong pitching performance of junior Tanna Benson, whose seven-inning, seven-strikeout game was only eclipsed by her 4-for-4 day at the plate against Nooksack (4-6, 1-3 NWC).
She started the scoring off for the Lions when she lined a RBI single over the shortstops head to score Trisha Snydar in the bottom of the first off pitcher Kayla Struiksma. Lynden would add two more runs in the bottom of the second and third, with Benson again driving in Snydar after she hit a triple down the right-field line.
"We all had confidence," Benson said. "It's been great. They are all coming in clutch right now, stepping up to their roles and doing what they do."
And as Lynden continued to plate runs at a steady rate, Benson was quickly making her way through the Pioneers' lineup. Through the first three innings, Benson only faced 10 batters, striking out four and allowing just two base hits.
"What I saw from her was she was able to move the ball side to side, and she was able to keep it down," Petersen said.
Adding Benson: "I was hitting my spots, and I had trust in my defense. When our offense is working, it's easier for us to work on defense."
The Pioneers managed to get a runner in scoring position in the top of the fourth after a Chloe Gardner single and a walk by Brianna Turner, but Benson was able to defuse the threat by forcing a routine grounder.
In the bottom of the fourth, Hannah Rothwell, who grounded out to third twice previously, made quite the impact on the game, and the ball, by sending the first pitch she saw over the left-field wall for a three-run home run, ballooning the lead to 8-0.
"Usually I cheer for them to get out, but that one, I didn't even have to cheer," Petersen said. "That was about as well hit a ball as we've had here."
Again, the three-run homer was after Struiksma had quickly retired the first two batters she faced before allowing back-to-back singles by Benson and Snydar.
"When we get the three outs we need, we got to take advantage of not giving extra outs and closing the door with two," Nooksack Valley coach Tom Harmon said. "I see us making progress. We just have to continue."
He saw glimpses of that progress when Olivia Berkan came in relief and retired the Lions in order in the bottom of the fifth. Struiksma then added an RBI single in the top of the sixth, scoring Lindsay Hayes, who reached on a fielder's choice before stealing second and third.
"There are little things we can improve upon, and when we do, I think we'll be pretty gutsy - pretty gritty," Harmon said.
The Lions would add two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to further secure the win, edging them closer to Ferndale at the top of the NWC standings. The Lions sit one game behind the Golden Eagles, while the Pioneers are battling for positioning with other 1A schools entering playoffs.
Both Lynden and Nooksack next face Mount Baker, with the Pioneers facing them Wednesday, April 23, and the Lions Thursday, April 24.
Reach Alex Bigelow at email@example.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
LYNDEN 10, NOOKSACK VALLEY 1
Nooksack Valley 000 001 0 - 1 6 2
Lynden 122 302 X - 10 16 0
WP - Tanna Benson; L- Kayla Struiksma; Highlights: Nooksack Valley: Kayla Struiksma 1-3 RBI, Chloe Gardner 1-3, Lindsay Hayes 0-3 2SB. Lynden: Mandy Warner 1-4 2B RBI, Trisha Snyder 3-4 2B 4R, Tanna Benson 4-4 3 B 2RBI, Hannah Rothwell 2-4 3R-HR,