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Vikings drop Sectional slugfest

ANTHEM: The Huntington North softball team stands during the playing of the national anthem prior to Thursday’s Sectional game against Homestead.

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The bats were hot all day long for the Huntington North and Homestead softball teams on Thursday, but the Spartans ultimately prevailed 12–9 in the Sectional Semifinal matchup to advance in the postseason.

The Vikings started the slugfest in the top of the first, as Laney Shaw belted a two-run shot over the wall in center field in the second at-bat of the contest to give Huntington North a quick 2–0 lead, scoring Kodi Douglass, who led off with a walk, in the process.

Homestead answered back with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame, sending the game to the second inning knotted at 2–2.

Douglass restored the lead for the Vikings in the top of the second, sending a two-out RBI single to center field to plate Erika Vinson for a 3–2 Huntington North edge.

However, the Spartans again wasted no time leveling the score, as Alyssa Swangin cranked a solo blast to lead off the bottom of the second to tie the game at 3–3. Homestead poured it on later in the inning, recording four consecutive hits followed by a Viking error to take their first lead of the day and eventually extending it to 6–3 after two frames.

Huntington North got one run back in the top of the third thanks to an RBI single by Macy Lange to bring in Jenna Poulson to narrow the gap to 6–4, but the Spartans tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the inning to take hold of a commanding 10–4 advantage.

Both offenses failed to generate runs in the fourth, but the Vikings resumed the scoring in the top of the fifth with an RBI drive by Vinson to plate Poulson and Grace Sell, while Lange scored on the ensuing at-bat via a defensive error by Homestead, cutting the Huntington North deficit to 10–7.

Though a comeback then felt feasible, Homestead quickly extended their advantage back up to five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 12–7 lead into the sixth.

Megan Stephan sent the Vikings’ second home run of the day over the wall in center field in the sixth inning, trimming the Spartan lead to 12–8, while a Sydney Selvage RBI single with two outs in the top of the seventh narrowed the gap to 12–9.

Despite the late push, Huntington North could not pull even with Homestead, ending the Vikings’ season with a 12–9 loss to the Spartans.

“We scored enough runs,” said head coach Paris Seibold. “Offensively, we did fine. We just had that one inning when we had two outs and we gave up a bunch of silly mistakes. We’ve kind of done that all year, but we just keep doing it. … It was kind of unfortunate. Some of the mistakes we made gave them easy runs they probably shouldn’t have had. … If we had fielded the ball clean, we win. We just had those three (or) four mistakes that were deadly.”

Selvage threw five and two-thirds innings on the mound for Huntington North, allowing 11 hits and eight runs, though only four were earned. Selvage struck out one Homestead batter.

Shaw pitched one-third of an inning, giving up no hits and four runs, though two were unearned. Shaw struck out one Spartan and walked three in her outing.

“Sydney actually pitched pretty well,” Seibold said. “She was hitting spots and she did a pretty good job. They had that little run where we had so many errors and I didn’t take her out because anything other than changing momentum a little. And then Laney got in there; she struggled a little bit, so we went back (to Sydney). … (Sydney) did a good job. (Her) curve ball was working good and the wind was pushing (with it) so we threw it quite a bit. They really didn’t hit her curve ball. The only time they got hits off her was when she got a little bit behind and had to bring it down the middle more. She pitched well enough that if we would have fielded the ball, we would have won the game.”

The season-ending loss closed the Vikings’ 2019 campaign with a 10–12 record.