Megan Bilgri certainly made the most of her varsity debut Thursday.
The Neuqua Valley junior struck out 15 and allowed just 2 hits as the Wildcats defeated host Elgin, 5-2, in Upstate Eight Conference softball action.
"I was very pleased with how the (debut) turned out," Bilgri said. "I pitched a few games on JV, but varsity is definitely a step up."
Bilgri struck out the side in the first, third and fifth innings and struck out at least one in every inning. The 2 hits the right-hander allowed were both solo home runs. Kelly Bremer homered to left field to lead off the second inning. Anna Eckholm homered with one out in the third.
"(Bilgri) did a fantastic job," Wildcats coach Melissa Wilson said. "She did a nice job of getting ahead of the batters, which I was really impressed with. She really kept them off balance."
Neuqua (2-1, 2-1) had 9 hits, all singles. Jamie O'Brien singled with two outs in the top of the third. The junior stole second and third. Sydney Foran singled up the middle to drive in O'Brien. Foran, who advanced to second on an error, scored on Kelsey Dominguez's single as Neuqua took a 2-1 lead.
Eckholm tied it in the bottom of the third. The Wildcats took the lead again in the fifth. Jenny Budds had a two-run single to drive in Foran and Dominguez for a 4-2 lead. O'Brien added an RBI single in the sixth.
The Maroons (5-3, 1-2) had a good scoring chance in the fourth when Bremer and Monica Stockman both walked to open the inning. But they were left on first and second.
"Our sticks aren't there yet," Elgin coach Chad Dahlman said. "We've seen some good pitchers. It's still early in the year and the first couple of games outside. Hopefully we can get the sticks going here."
Jennah Perryman suffered the loss, allowing 5 runs, 4 earned. The junior walked four and struck out nine.