5/10/2013 9:51:00 AM Flurry of games continues for North Branch
Casey Hovland’s speed and defense has been an asset to the North Branch softball team in this season’s fast-paced games.
by JEFF NORTON
Benilde-St. Margaret’s 11, North Branch 4 The season of make up games and postponements continued for North Branch last week. The Vikings opened the week with beautiful weather for a home game against Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Monday, April 29. The Red Knights opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with a hit, a sacrifice fly and two costly North Branch errors that led to two BSM runs. Then, in the second inning, Benilde seemed to take complete control of the game, scoring five runs. They got those scores on four hits and two more big errors by the Vikings fielders.
But, North Branch struck back quickly when they scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning. Casey Hovland led off the inning with a single and Emily Trunk and Syd Meuller backed that up with singles of their own, scoring Hovland. Kari Berggren then reached on an error, and the extra time allowed Meuller to score on the play. A passed ball advanced Berggren to second, and then a single by Kaylee Lofboom scored Berggren and pinch runner Claire Peltier. The big inning trimmed BSM’s lead to 7-4, but they quickly tacked on three more runs in the fourth inning and then capped the scoring with a single digit in the sixth inning, winning 11-4.
Lofboom went the distance for North Branch, allowing 11 runs, but only four of them earned, on 12 hits. “We really did not give ourselves a chance by playing poor defense today,” Head Coach Ron Trunk said after the demoralizing North Suburban Conference loss. “We will need to support our pitchers better in order to compete.” Hovland had a good game for NB, going one for two with a walk and a run score. She also ended the seventh inning with a highlight-reel diving catch in right field.
North Branch 6, Fridley 0 The Vikings took advantage of another sloppy game by the Fridley Tigers, beating them for the second time in as many meetings this year. North Branch scored four runs in the top of the first inning when Emily Trunk lead off the inning with a single. Meuller laid down a sacrifice bunt, but a misplay by the Fridley infielders left Trunk all the way at third and Meuller standing on second base.
Mikayla Carlson knocked a base hit to centerfield, scoring Trunk and moving Mueller over to third. The Fridley outfielder gunned it home even though Meuller wasn’t going, and Carlson took second on the misplay. Meuller then touched home plate and Carlson went to third after a ground out Berggren. Erin Kvam followed with a walk and Lofboom followed with a single, scoring Carlson and moving Kvam’s pinch runner Sydney Meath to second base. Meath then scored on a two-out single by Megan Carlson. Emily Trunk locked the Tigers down from there on out. She only allowed one hit in the contest and walked two while striking out seven Tiger batters.
The Vikings added two more runs in the fourth inning, and cruised to the victory on Trunk’s arm. The biggest key for the Vikings in the game was their mistake-free play in the field. “This was a nice bounce back game after a poor defensive effort Monday. Our pitcher was able to throw a lot of first pitch strikes and work ahead in the count. The defense was real solid and were able to get off the field quick,” Trunk explained.
North Branch 8, St. Francis 4 The Fighting Saints came into their game against North Branch rolling, winning four straight North Suburban Conference games, including victories over Benilde, Chisago Lakes and Spring Lake Park. Kaylee Lofboom didn’t care, though. The junior pitched well for the Vikings, only giving up one unearned run in a complete game victory, her second of the season. The Saints struck early in the second inning, scoring a run on a walk, followed by some small ball and aided by a North Branch error.
The Vikings responded in the bottom half of the second when Kelsey Laffin reached on a one out single to left and moved to second when a bunt by Megan Carlson was bobbled by the St. Francis fielders. After a fielders choice got lead runner Laffin out, Emily Trunk hit a clutch two-out single that score Carlson and moved Katy Trunk to third base. Emily Trunk proceeded to swipe second base, and then the Trunk sisters both came around to score when Casey Hovland put a ball in play that the St. Francis shortstop couldn’t handle. In the third inning, North Branch went right back to work on offense. Mikayla Carlson led off with a single and then a Saints error on a ball hit off the bat of Berggren left Carlson at third base and Berggren at second. Kvam reached on a fielders choice bunt, but nobody advanced on the play, loading the bases. Lofboom followed with a single to score Carlson. A sacrifice fly by Laffin scored Berggren and a single by Megan Carlson scored Lofboom, leaving the Vikings in the driver’s seat at 6-1.
The Fighting Saints trimmed their deficit to two runs after three hits and an error allowed them to score three runs in the top of the fourth inning. North Branch capped off the scoring with two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, though, and the Vikings escaped with an 8-4 victory over St. Francis. Lofboom got the big victory for North Branch, striking out only one Saint in her complete game performance.
“This was a nice win for us, SF had beaten all three of the conference teams we have lost to this season and the win gets us back to 4-4,” Coach Trunk said. “Kaylee really battled hard today. When she did get behind in the count she was able throw quality pitches and not give up big hits. Both teams defense was a little sloppy but we did a better job of capitalizing on their mistakes. We made great contact today getting 10 hits and hitting a few other balls hard.”
Robbinsdale Cooper 1, North Branch 0 The Vikings’ lack of clutch hitting bit them in the tail against the Cooper Hawks in a painful 1-0 loss early this week. North Branch scattered seven singles, but they were 0-for-6 with runnings in scoring position, and it all came down to one run in the end. After Emily Trunk and Cooper’s Casey Anderson had battled to a 0-0 deadlock through five and a half innings, the Hawks finally scored a run, albeit an unearned one. In the sixth inning, the Cooper lead off hitter reached on an error, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, moved to third on a seeing-eye single and then scored on another sacrifice bunt. That was all the scoring Cooper would need as they won 1-0.
Emily Trunk pitched all six innings, giving up the one unearned run on four hits. She walked two and struck out three. “We were not able get a hit in the few chances we had with runner in scoring position,” Coach Trunk lamented. “The Hawks pitcher did a good job of changing speeds and had good movement on her pitches.”