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Douglass grand slam highlights Viking sweep

CELEBRATION: The Huntington North softball team celebrates with junior catcher Kodi Douglass after Douglass crushed a grand slam during the Vikings’ 8–7 game two win over Mishawaka on Saturday afternoon.

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The Huntington North softball team opened up their 2019 home campaign on Saturday with a pair of victories over Mishawaka.

The Vikings cruised to a 12–5 win in game one of the doubleheader before squeaking out an 8–7 walk-off victory in game two. The wins–Huntington North’s first two of the season–improved their record to 2–1.

The Cavemen started game one quickly, jumping out to a 2–0 lead after the top of the first inning, which would hold up as the game’s score after the frame.

The Vikings responded in the second inning, as junior pitcher Sydney Selvage reached on a fielding error by the Mishawaka defense. In the next at-bat, junior outfielder Katie Melcher sent a pitch over the wall in left field to tie the game at 2–2 with one swing of the bat.

Mishawaka again scored in the top of the third to regain the lead at 3–2, but the Viking offense exploded in the bottom of the third to take control of the contest.

After singles by junior catcher Kodi Douglass and junior center fielder Laney Shaw and a walk by sophomore first baseman Maddie Levy, Huntington North quickly found themselves with the bases loaded and no outs.

Two batters later, junior infielder Corynn Barton lined a hit to center field, bringing in Shaw and Levy to give the Vikings a 4–3 advantage.

Senior outfielder Macy Lange followed suit in the ensuing at-bat, sending a double to center field to bring home freshman shortstop Megan Stephan, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, extending the Huntington North lead to 5–3.

Three batters later, sophomore third baseman Sophie Eckert crushed a bases-loaded single to the outfield to clear the bases and put the Vikings up 8–3 to cap off a six-run frame for Huntington North.

The Cavemen cut the Viking lead to three at 8–5 in the top of the fourth, but a deep double by Stephan scored Shaw to push the Huntington North advantage to 9–5 in the bottom half of the inning.

Mishawaka threatened to close the gap in the top of the fifth inning, as the Cavemen filled the bases with two outs, but Selvage got out of the jam with a groundout to end the inning with no damage done.

The Vikings put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fifth by adding a trio of runs to take hold of a commanding 12–5 lead.

Selvage allowed just two hits the rest of the way to preserve the 12–5 victory for Huntington North.

Selvage tossed all seven innings for the Vikings to earn the win on the mound and gave up 10 hits and five earned runs while striking out a pair of Cavemen.

“I was glad to see, in the first game, our bats come alive and just hit the ball,” said head coach Paris Seibold. “I thought Sydney pitched really well: mixed them up good. I was a little worried they came out that first inning bang-bang and hit the ball hard. I was like, ‘Oh my.’ But, we settled down and played some good defense, too. … Katie Melcher hit that shot. That was a big lift for the team.”

Sophomore pitcher Carly Collins started game two on the mound for Huntington North and quickly got in a rhythm, allowing just one Mishawaka base runner in the first two innings combined.

However, the Vikings also struggled at the plate early, also sending just one player to the base path through two innings.

The Cavemen finally started the scoring in the top of the fourth inning with a pair of runs to take a 2–0 lead.

Huntington North’s offense finally came to life in the bottom of the fifth inning, thanks to Melcher, Barton and senior second baseman Erika Vinson all walking to open the frame to load the bases with no outs. Freshman outfielder Jenna Poulson then walked in the fourth at-bat to bring home Melcher to get the Vikings on the board at 2–1.

With the bases still full of Vikings and no outs, Douglass stepped up to the dish and changed the game with a thunderous drive over the wall in center field to clear the bases and give Huntington North a 5–2 lead with the first grand slam of her career.

“I got down in the count really fast and then she pitched a couple balls and I was like, ‘I gotta figure out how to do this; gotta get some runs in,’ because we weren’t down by that many,” Douglass said. “In my head, I was like, ‘Just do what you gotta do.’ (A) base hit was all I was thinking, and then it just came off my bat and I felt it and was like, ‘Wow! I can’t even believe I just did that.’ And then (the) dugout went crazy. … I just wanted to do what was best for the team: get up and ahead. That’s definitely the top (batting memory for me). I’ve hit around the cycle now, but I think grand slam is definitely best, especially when you’re down and that puts you up ahead. That felt really good.”

Mishawaka cut into their new deficit in the top of the sixth inning to bring the score to 5–3 in favor of Huntington North before putting together a big inning of their own in the top of the seventh inning to re-establish a two-run advantage at 7–5.

The Vikings were not done yet, though, as they still had three outs to work with to again close the gap.

Douglass singled to open the bottom of the seventh while Shaw walked in the following at-bat to put two runners on base with no outs. The duo advanced a base apiece in the ensuing at-bat on a passed ball, putting both in scoring position.

Levy, who was at the plate for the passed ball, grounded the ball through the infield two pitches later, scoring both Douglass and Shaw to even the score at 7–7, with Shaw beating out the throw home.

After a pair of outs, it appeared as though the game would head to extra innings to decide the winner of game two.

However, with smart base running, Levy represented the winning run at third base with Huntington North still having one out to play with.

Melcher was the next up at the dish and hit a ground ball to Mishawaka’s shortstop. The Cavemen could not convert the out, though, allowing Melcher to reach base. With Levy running on the hit and scoring, the error gave the Vikings an 8–7 walk-off victory to complete the doubleheader sweep.

“That’ll give them some confidence I think,” Seibold said. “A lot of times if you’re behind, you feel like you can’t do it or the pressure is on. I was glad to see us come back. That’s a big lift for our team. Mishawaka is a good team. They hit the ball. They had some good hitters.”

Collins went five innings for Huntington North, allowing four hits and two runs, one of which was unearned. Collins also fanned a pair of Mishawaka batters.

Selvage picked up her second victory of the day on the mound, pitching two innings while allowing five hits and five runs, though only two were earned.

The Vikings traveled to play Jay County on Monday night, but results were not available as of The Herald-Press’s deadline.

Huntington North will travel to play Northrop today at 5:30 p.m.