4/17/2014 3:28:00 PM Lady Vikings top Big Lake and Fridley in opening games of 2014
by JEFF NORTON
North Branch 5, Big Lake 4 In their first Mississippi 8 Conference softball tilt, a mid-game rally gave the Vikings the season-opening win. Big Lake struck first in the top of the first inning on an error, a sacrifice bunt and a single. The errors are what the Vikings have to avoid this year stepping into this conference. In the second inning, Big Lake stretched their lead to 2-0 with a leadoff homerun. In the bottom of the third inning, North Branch struck back, tying the game with big bats from Mikayla Carlson, Kelsey Laffin and Kaylee Lofboom. Carlson led off the inning with a single, and Lofboom backed that up with a double. Both runs scored when Laffin knocked a single to the outfield. The Hornets answered right back when the Vikings committed two errors in the top of the fourth. The miscues led to two Big Lake runs.
North Branch’s offense was just getting going, though. They scored three runs in the bottom half of the third inning to retake the lead at 5-4. Jaci Bossard reached on a walk and then moved to third when Maddie Danks’ sacrifice bunt was thrown into right field for a Hornet error. Pinch runner Korissa Franklin stole second to put two runners in scoring position for big bopper Carlson. The senior catcher came through, poking a single just past the infield and scoring both Bossard and Franklin. However, it was Carlson’s follow-up effort that gave the Vikings the lead. When the Hornet outfield threw home to try and get Franklin out, Carlson smartly advanced the second. The Big Lake catcher thought she might have a play, so she threw the ball back to the second basemen, but an errant throw ended up in the outfield and Carlson came all the way around for what was scored a single in the books, but essentially ended up as an in-the-park homerun.
That bizarre play led to a one-run lead for the Vikings that Kaylee Lofboom wouldn’t give away. The senior hurler didn’t give up anymore runs in the last three innings, going the distance. She gave up only one earned run on six hits and a strikeout. “It was our first day out on the dirt and I thought our girls handled that real well,” Head Coach Ron Trunk said. “Kaylee pitched very well not giving up any walks and collecting 17 ground ball outs. Big Lake has had an outstanding program over the years, so this was great way to start our season!” Just two years ago, Big Lake was in the Class AAA state tournament, so the win was a nice early feather in the cap for the girls. North Branch 8, Fridley 1 The fifth inning was the lucky one for the North Branch softball team when they took on former North Suburban Conference foe Fridley. The Lady Vikes scored five runs in that fifth inning, which opened up a daunting 8-0 lead as they cruised to an 8-1 win. North Branch collected 12 hits on the day, including four off of the big bat of Bossard. Megan Carlson, Laffin and Lofboom each had a pair of hits and Paige Yoch and Hannah Hubbard each knocked a base hit out. Lofboom got her second win in as many tries.
She went five innings, giving up three hits while striking out three Tigers. Britta Anderson went two innings in relief, seeing her first career varsity action. She gave up an unearned run, one hit and two walks while striking out three. “A nice solid outing for us. We got the bats going and played solid defense,” Trunk said after the big win. “Jaci had a great day at the plate going four-for-four and Paige and Hannah each had a big hit to drive in two runs!”