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Vikings survive wild battle at Woodlan

RUN: Freshman catcher Megan Stephan scored one run in Huntington North’s 13–11 win over Woodlan on Thursday.

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

Despite chillier than expected weather with gusty winds, the Huntington North softball team escaped with a wild 13–11 victory at Woodlan on Thursday, improving the Vikings’ season record to 4–2.

The game got out to a slow start, as neither offense could break through in the first two innings despite both sides having good scoring chances. Huntington North had the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the first before recording outs each of the next three at-bats. Likewise, Woodlan loaded the bases in the bottom of the second with one out, but sophomore pitcher Carly Collins struck out the next batter and got the following batter to ground out to end the threat and keep the game knotted at 0–0.

The Vikings opened the scoring the top of the third inning, as senior left fielder Macy Lange brought in junior shortstop Kodi Douglass with an RBI groundout for a 1–0 Huntington North lead.

Woodlan answered in the bottom of the fourth with a bases-loaded triple to take a 3–1 lead, but the Vikings responded with three runs in the top of the fifth.

After senior second baseman Erika Vinson singled to lead off the inning and junior center fielder Laney Shaw walked two batters later, Lange drove in both with a deep double to tie the game at 3–3.

In the ensuing at-bat, senior pinch hitter Salem Stanley lined a single to right field to bring in Lange to re-establish a one-run advantage for Huntington North at 4–3.

Woodlan responded with a run in the bottom of the frame, as their lead runner picked up two free bases on a pair of passed balls to score and even the game at 4–4.

The Viking offense then blew the doors off the contest in the top of the sixth inning, bringing in nine runs—all with two outs—to take hold of a commanding 13–4 advantage.

Huntington North took the lead when Shaw crushed a deep double to score Vinson and Douglass, and then came around to score herself on a wild throw, making the score 7–4.

Following a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases, the Vikings tacked on five more runs thanks to another walk, a wild pitch and an additional hit-by-pitch and a pair of passed balls to score freshman catcher Megan Stephan, Lange, junior right fielder Katie Melcher and freshman pinch runner Jenna Poulson and sophomore first baseman Maddie Levy, respectively, for a 12–4 lead.

In the next at-bat, Douglass singled to score junior pitcher Sydney Selvage, pushing the Huntington North advantage to 13–4.

Woodlan finally got out of the inning on a controversial third-strike call on Shaw to end the marathon frame.

Despite the Vikings opening up a sizable gap, the Warriors refused to go down quietly, scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Huntington North lead to 13–8 and avoid the game being ended early by mercy rule.

Woodlan held the Vikings off the board in the seventh and then picked up where they left off at the plate in the previous inning. After a lead-off walk, the Warriors crushed a home run three batters later to narrow the gap to 13–10.

A triple followed by a single further cut into Huntington North’s lead at 13–11, but Selvage then got Woodlan’s final batter to fly out to close out a wild Viking victory.

“We got some timely hits there with bases loaded and got some passed balls that the girls took off (on),” said head coach Paris Seibold. “(They) had a green light on those. But, with these weather conditions, wow. It was quite a game.”

Collins threw two innings in the start for Huntington North, allowing two hits and no runs.

Selvage came on in the third inning and gave up seven hits and 11 runs, though only four were earned, in five innings of work for the win.

“It was a tough pitching night for the pitchers,” Seibold said. “Sydney doesn’t normally walk (that many batters). (She usually walks) one or two a game. Of course, their pitcher was struggling, too. But, we hit the ball well. We kind of messed up some defense there, but we had enough runs where we could kick it around a little bit. But, with this kind of weather, it’s pretty tough. Your hands are cold, body is cold. I was kind of surprised; at first, I thought we weren’t going to do very well. Sometimes, when it’s this kind of weather, you just kind of fold up. They come up and got the lead on us and I thought, ‘Uh oh.’ But, we came back. It was a good comeback for us.”

Lange and Shaw led the way offensively for Huntington North with three RBIs apiece, while Douglass, sophomore third baseman Sophie Eckert, Selvage and Stanley all added one.

Douglass, Lange, Shaw and Vinson all scored two runs, while Levy, Melcher, Poulson, Selvage and Stephan each scored once.

The Vikings return to action for a road duel against Homestead on Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.