April 30, 2004 at 10:51 a.m.
North Branch 0 (five inn.)
Steve Fisher had been reading the scouting report. He knew that this season, the North Branch Vikings have been victimized by one bad inning. Take away that one bad inning and their record could be 3-2 instead of 0-5.
“We definitely didn’t want to take them too lightly,” said Fisher, Chisago Lakes head softball coach. “Even last year when they weren’t supposed to be that good, they gave us a lot of problems. Whenever you play North Branch, you never know what to expect.”
Actually, this time, the scouting report turned out to be right on as North Branch once again had one inning where they fell apart. That was the game.
Scoreless through one, Chisago Lakes jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, that’s when Tara Walbridge scored on a wild pitch for the game’s first run.
It stayed that way until the top of the third, then it happened. Like a stack of dominos, the chips began to fall against the Vikings right away and they could never recover.
It started harmless enough. Katie Reed led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. One wild pitch and two passed balls later, Reed came across for the second run of the game. That was only the beginning. Rachel Nelson followed with an RBI single, Katie Young smashed a two-run single, and Ariel Novak added a two-run double, stretching the Chisago lead to 7-0.
Still batting in the top of the third, after a passed ball scored the eighth run of the game, Nelson pushed the ‘Cat lead to double digits with a two-run single before the inning finally came to a close. When it was said and done, the third inning produced nine runs on six hits. The Wildcats ended up sending 13 batters to the plate. They were aided by North Branch errors. Only three of Chisago’s 12 runs in the game were earned.
“Defensively we continue to struggle,” said Larry Brodin, North Branch head softball coach. “We’re still looking for the right combinations and some hits when we need them.”
Already comfortably ahead, the ‘Cats put North Branch away in the fifth with two more runs, wrapping up a 12-0 win in five innings. The victory moved Chisago’s record to 4-3 overall while North Branch dropped to 0-6.
“We got the bat on the ball. We were putting the ball in play right from the start, the only difference was, in the first two innings, we were hitting it right at people,” remarked Fisher. “It was only a matter of time and then the flood gates opened up in the third. We batted 13 in that inning; we haven’t done that this year. We strung some hits together, that was great to see.”
The 10 run lead was more than enough for Sarah Ploog who made the start for Chisago. Although the senior only struck out one, she went the distance, allowing one hit the entire game. She also didn’t walk a batter in the game.
“Sarah was the difference,” said Fisher. “She’s going to put the ball in play. She’s not going to overpower you, her game is just to let the other team hit it and let our defense do the work and that’s what we did.”
Meanwhile for North Branch, Shannon O’Hern picked up the loss, falling to 0-3 on the season. Offensively, the Vikings only hit came from Destiny Croes.
“Hopefully we can get everything going soon and pick up a win,” replied Brodin. “We’re working at it but we haven’t had much success yet.”
Chisago Lakes 12
North Branch 0 (5 innings)
Chisago Lakes 019 02 12 11
North Branch 000 00 0 1
Reed 1-2, 3 R
Baumgard 2-4, 2 RBI, R
Nelson 3-4, 3 RBI, R
Cunningham 1-4, R
Walbridge 1-3, 2 R
Young 2-3, 2 RBI, R
Swanberg 0-2, R
Novak 1-3, 2 RBI, 2 R
WP: Ploog (2-3)
7 IP, H, K
M. Johnson 0-2
LP: O’Hern (0-3)
2.1 IP, 8 H, 10 R, 1 ER, 2 BB
2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER