By Dave Pearce
The North Posey Lady Vikings got a rare opportunity this week. Early in the week, they got to see just how far they have come as they near the mid-point of the season. The Lady Vikings thumped Princeton 8-0 with the one-hit pitching of Hailee Elderkin and some impressive defense behind her.
On Friday night, the Lady Vikings got an opportunity to see not only how far they have come, but how far they have to go as the undefeated and fourth-ranked (in Class 4A) Central Bears took a 2-2 game and blew the Lady Vikings out of the park with a combination of power, precision, and some help on the part of the Lady Vikings by committing errors.
Early in the week, it looked like the Lady Vikings might not be able to play the game that had been scheduled. The Lady Tigers’ bus arrived nearly an hour late but the Lady Vikings were waiting…patiently.
But the sophomore Elderkin would get into some early trouble. In the top of the first, she yielded a walk and a hit batsman, rarities according to North Posey Coach Gary Gentil.
“If you look back over the year, Hailee had given up very few walks and I can’t remember when she ever hit a batter,” Gentil said. “I think some of it might have been nerves and then there was the fact that the girls sat here for almost an hour waiting on them. The game got a late start.”
But the sophomore pitcher gave up only one hit on the night, and that came with one out in the top of the seventh inning. The Lady Tigers have been known as a good hitting team coming into the game. They were 4-2 entering the contest.
In the bottom of the first, lead-off hitter Kelsey Owen fell behind 1-2 but battled all the way back to draw a walk on nine pitches. The Princeton hurler found out there would be no easy outs at North Posey on this night.
Owen was bunted over to second and scored on a Taylor Patton single.
Elderkin sat Princeton down 1-2-3 in the second inning and her team provided her a little insurance in the bottom of the inning as, with two out, Anna Will struck for a single and Haylee Harness reached on an error. Courtney Crowder then flied deep to right, but with the wind, the fielder dropped the ball allowing Will to score.
Princeton had its closest thing to a threat in the top of the third when, with one out, the Princeton batter appeared to turn into a pitch that was on the inside of the plate but the umpire ruled it was a hit batsman. She stole second. The next batter smacked a ball right at Harness, who was playing in at third for the bunt but she fielded the ball, looked the runner back, and made the throw to first. The inning ended when the next batter grounded to second and the throw came to Amy Brandenstein at first. Bandenstein alertly saw the runner on second attempting to take third on the throw and threw a perfect strike to Owen, who was covering, to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third, Patton led off with a single and Brandenstein bet out an infield hit. Designated Player Taylor Franklin then doubled over the center fielder’s head scoring Patton. Catcher Megan Baehl then reached on a fielder’s choice as Brandenstein was forced to run into an out at home plate. Baehl stole second before Princeton escaped, trailing only 3-0.
The Tigers went down in order in the top of the fourth and again, the Vikings were up to their old tricks.
With one out, Crowder drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch and Owen lined a shot that appeared to be over the center fielder’s head. She managed to get a glove on it but was unable to make the catch. Maddie Elpers then emptied the bases with a double and the Vikings were ahead 5-0.
After a walk, Edlerkin faced only four batters in the top of the fifth.
The Vikings would ring up three more runs in the bottom of the fifth as Patton and Baehl had back-to-back singles. Harness then laced a pitch right at the shortstop who could not make a play and that left the bases loaded for Crowder.
Crowder stepped to the plate and lined a double to the center field fence for three RBIs.
“I think Courtney got every ounce of weight and strength she had into that hit,” Gentil said of the small-statured Crowder.
The Tigers got out of the inning on a pair of long fly balls but were never able to generate any offense of their own.
The win left the Vikings 5-7 heading into a game that probably should have been called due to wet field conditions at Central on Friday evening…at least the Lady Vikings probably felt like that.
“It is good for us to play the very best competition we can play at this point in the season,” Gentil said of the game with the highly-touted Bears. “It can’t do anything but make you a better team down the road.”
And while the Vikings were able to hang with the Bears through the first three innings, the Lady Bears went on to take a 12-2 decision over the Lady Vikings.
The Vikings were scheduled to host a very solid Heritage Hills club on Monday before hosting North Knox on Wednesday and traveling to South Spencer on Friday.