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Selvage leads Vikings to win over Snider

PITCH: Huntington North’s Sydney Selvage throws a pitch during the Vikings’ game against Fort Wayne Snider on Thursday.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@h-ponline.com

Much of the spring for the Huntington North softball team has been spent learning. But with the learning moments have come growing pains.

On Thursday, the Vikings saw glimpses of what could be coming. Looking to return to .500 on the season, Huntington North hosted Snider. In one of their best offensive outings of the season, the hosts scored in five of the six innings, including four runs in the first and five in the sixth to earn a 12-6 victory.

“I think that we’re seeing the ball a little better,” head coach Paris Seibold said. “(We’re) a little more focused on hitting. We’ve struggled a little bit in the past on hitting. I thought we did pretty good tonight.

“The good thing was we played pretty good defense. We only had the one inning where we kind of made some errors but we hit the ball pretty decent, moved the runners around so I think overall it was a good game for us.”

With the Panthers coming into the contest with a 4-12 record, Huntington North wasted little time jumping ahead.

After a 1-2-3- inning from Sydney Selvage in the center circle, the Vikings started scoring immediately as Kendra Arnold picked up an RBI with a single into right and Maddie Levy added two of her own with a double into center.

Sophie Eckert’s line drive into center plated Levy and gave the hosts an early 4-0 lead.

Snider would take advantage of a pair of one-out walks from Selvage in the second with a two-out, two-RBI bloop single into right to halve the deficit to 4-2 in the second. Selvage, however, responded right back with her first career home run to deep center field in the bottom of the second.

Huntington North continued applying pressure on the night, adding another run in the third and fourth innings before tacking on five in the sixth.

“This is probably the first game this year, I think, that we’ve scored continually every inning,” Seibold said. “We’re hoping that’ll continue because our game average is like two runs a game. It was nice to see us putting runs up every inning. If you can do that, you’re going to win a lot of games.”

Selvage offered little for the Snider offense to feast upon. A two-out triple in the fifth accounted for the Panthers’ third run of the night before the guests added an unearned run in the sixth on an error.

The sophomore hurler allowed just five hits along with five walks and three earned runs in the complete-game effort while striking out five.

Huntington North ensured there would be no comeback on the night with a big sixth inning that started with a leadoff single from Kodi Douglass. Arnold would eventually bring Douglass around the score with an RBI single back up the middle.

Huntington North would load the bases with one out in the inning and Peyton Butler would bring a run in with a sacrifice fly in foul ground down the third-base line, giving the hosts a 9-4 lead.

A bases-loaded walk to Corynn Barton brought in another run before Selvage aided her own cause with a two-RBI single into left to push the lead to 12-4.

Offensively, Selvage finished 2-for-5 with a run and three RBIs. Arnold was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run while Maddie Levy finished 2-for-3 with three runs and two RBIs.

Douglass scored twice to go along with a hit in the win.

The win improves the Vikings to 10-10 on the year and continues a trend of alternating wins and losses that Seibold’s crew has struggled with all season. Only twice this season have the Vikings been able to string three-consecutive wins together as inconsistency has plagued the Vikings.

For Seibold, part of the cause has been the level of competition the team has faced in the area with a host of Division I-caliber pitchers in the conference.

“I think some of our problem has been (that) our conference has pretty good pitching,” Seibold said. “We faced Leo, who has probably two Division I pitchers on their staff. Bellmont’s pitcher is going to Indiana University. It’s hard to hit those girls. When we went up to Leo, we did hit her and scored two runs, but the pitching level is pretty good in this area right now. Norwell (Wednesday) night, we played well but their pitcher just kind of dominated after a while.”

The challenge, though, has helped a young Viking team grow up quickly as they close in on the final week of the season before heading into the postseason, a postseason where they’ll be seeking revenge on Homestead from last season’s sectional final loss.

The Spartans also beat the Vikings last Friday 9-2 and have another strong pitcher in Emilie Felger who sports a 1.34 ERA in 52.1 innings this season. For the Vikings, games against Mishawaka and Mississinewa this week along with the conference finale against New Haven will hopefully be warm-up efforts heading into the sectional.

“A lot of our best players are our younger girls that are coming up,” Seibold said. “But they’ve gotten better almost every game. You can see, like baserunning, there are some mistakes, but at least they’re realizing (the errors). We made a couple mistakes tonight, but they’re learning.

“I think as the season has progressed we’ve gotten better. We’re hoping to end with some strong (opposing) pitching so when we get to Homestead in the sectional, we have an opportunity. There’s hope there if we play well.”