5/23/2013 3:03:00 PM Vikes fall just short in upset bid of first place Irondale
by JEFF NORTON
North Branch 11, Monticello 2 The North Branch softball team split their last two games of the year, topping future Mississippi 8 Conference for Monticello 11-2. The Vikings opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with two runs. Mikayla Carlson and Sydney Meuller hit back-to-back singles and a sacrifice fly by Kari Berggren moved them both up a bag. Erin Kvam brought both of them home with a key two-out single. In the second inning, NB added another tally when Carlson hit a sac fly, scoring Casey Hovland who had reached on a single.
North Branch started to pull away in the fourth inning. The Vikes added four runs, with a two-run double by Meuller and an RBI single by Kaylee Lofboom. The Vikings nearly run-ruled the Magic after adding two more runs in the fifth inning. The big hit in that inning was an RBI triple by Carlson. North Branch eventually stretched the lead to 10-0 before the Magic answered back with two runs to keep the game going and out of the mercy rule. North Branch plated one more run in the to win 11-2. Emily Trunk went all seven innings for North Branch, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks. “It was nice to see the bats come alive and pound out 16 hits,” Head Coach Ron Trunk said. “The play in the field was very solid and our pitcher was able to keep the ball down, causing 12 ground ball outs.”
Irondale 7, North Branch 5 The Vikings gave the first place Knights quite the scare in the season finale. Irondale scored the first two runs of the game in the opening frames, but North Branch answered back with a single run in the fourth. Meuller led off with a single and was sacrificed over to second. Lofboom hit a fielders choice to move Meuller to third, who then scored on a passed ball. Irondale threatened in the fifth inning after their third hitter drew a walk and stole second. A hit moved her over to third and she tried to score on the play, but Sydney Meath gunned her down at the plate, leaving the deficit at just one for North Branch.
The Vikings took a 5-2 lead in the sixth inning after Carlson led off the inning with a walk. Meuller followed with a bunt single. Kvam hit a single to right to load the bases. Megan Carlson followed by drawing a bases loaded walk and tying the game. Katy Trunk then reached on an error, scoring punch runner Meath. With the bases loaded and two outs, Lofboom and Megan Carlson scored when the Irondale pitcher tossed a wild pitch, then made an error trying to cover home and keep the game close, leaving North Branch up 5-2. It was looking like an upset after North Branch got the first two outs in the seventh inning, but with two baserunners already, the Knights drew two walks to score a run and leave the bases loaded.
The next Irondale hitter belted a bases-clearing double, and then ended up scoring when North Branch fumbled with the ball in the outfield, leaving the Vikings reeling, down 7-5. They only managed one baserunner in the bottom of the seventh inning before going down in their final game of the regular season. Lofboom took the loss for North Branch. She went all seven innings and gave up 13 hits while striking out four. “It was a disappointing finish to a great softball game,” Trunk said afterwards. “We really worked hard to battle back in this game and take advantage of the error Irondale made in the sixth. I think both teams felt the strike zone got squeezed in the late innings making it difficult to get out of the sixth for Irondale and the seventh for us.”