May 13, 2010 at 9:21 a.m.
In the opener, the Wildcats burst out of the starting gate with five runs in the top of the first inning. The Vikings pecked away at the lead in the late innings, but their rally fell short as they lost 6-4.
In the bottom of the first, Wildcat Amanda Houle singled and Rachel Nelson walked to put runners on first and second with no outs. Kasey Eichten, Kayla Checkalski and Mackenzie Turk each singled to drive in a run to put the Wildcats up 3-0. Danielle Tossey's grounder forced Checkalski at third. Mallory Schneider grounded out, and it looked like the Vikings might escape the inning without any further damage. But Claire Habel got a hold of a pitch and drove it into the gap in right field for a two-run double to make the score 5-0 in favor of the Wildcats. Viking pitcher Emily Trunk struck out Nicole Zacher to end the Wildcat rally.
The Wildcats added to their lead in the second. Houle singled, stole second, went to third on Nelson's groundout and scored on a wild pitch. The Vikings took advantage of some Wildcat miscues to get on the board in the fourth. Tiffany Anderson walked to lead off the inning. Trunk reached on an error, and both runners scored when Quianna Quam also reached on a Wildcat error. The Vikings now trailed 6-2.
In the fifth, Viking Kelci Lofboom walked with two out. Anderson singled to left. Lofboom scored on Trunk's single up the middle to cut the Wildcat lead to 6-3. The Vikings kept up the pressure in the sixth. Alley Carlson reached on an error to lead off the inning. Chelsea Tollberg followed with a walk. Kayla Merschdorf and Ashley King each drove in a run with a groundout to cut the Wildcat lead to 6-4. But Wildcat pitcher Eichten struck out Chelsey Emery Snaza to end the Viking rally.
Lofboom walked to lead off the top of the seventh for the Vikings. But the next three batters grounded out, and the Wildcats hung on for a 6-4 win. After allowing six runs in the first two innings, Viking pitcher Trunk kept her team in the game by allowing just one of the last fourteen Wildcat batters to reach base. Wildcat pitcher Eichten was equal to the task, as she stuck out 11, allowed just three hits and walked two to pick up her second win of the season. Only one of the four runs against Eichten was earned.
"After we got a big lead early in this game," said Wildcat co-head coach Herb Jangor, "it looked like we thought it was going to be easy. But give the Vikings a lot of credit. They hung in there, stopped the bleeding and played some good ball."
Chisago Lakes 17, North Branch 1 (5 innings)
In the nightcap, the Wildcat offense really came alive as they scored multiple runs in each of the first four innings to beat the Vikings 17-1 in a game shortened to five innings because of the ten-run rule. The Wildcats pounded out 15 hits in their biggest offensive outburst of the season.
Kayla Checkalski led the hit parade by going three-for-four with two doubles and three RBIs. Kasey Eichten also had three hits, including a double. Claire Habel and Shannon Monson each went two-for three and Mallory Schneider and Nicole Zacher each contributed a double.
The Vikings scored their only run of the game in the second inning. Alley Carlson singled and later scored on Kayla Merschdorf's hit. Nelson turned in another outstanding performance on the mound for the Wildcats, allowing just three hits while striking out five and walking none.
Jangor said "In the last couple of games, we have shown a lot better plate discipline. We're waiting for the right pitch and getting deep into some counts. The hits have been coming and we've had some big innings. Kayla Checkalski has been our most consistent hitter in recent games. She's hitting everything they throw at her, whether the pitch is good or bad. The Vikings hung tough and played hard, but this one just got away from them. Their coach, Ron Trunk, is doing a nice job over there with a young team."
Chisago Lakes 14, Columbia Heights 1 (6 innings)
The Wildcats bats stayed sharp against Columbia Heights as they racked up ten more hits. The Hylanders helped out by committing six errors as the Wildcats rolled over them 14-1 this past Monday, May 3 in a game shortened to six innings because of the ten-run rule.
Nine different Wildcats picked up a base hit in this one. Shannon Monson had the only multiple hit performance, going two-for-two. Tia Pearl drove in three runs with a single and a groundout. Everyone got in on the fun as eighteen different Wildcats made a plate appearance in this one. Kasey Eichten struck out eleven, allowed just two hits and walked one to notch her third win of the season.
"After scoring only one run the first time through the order," said Jangor, "we showed some plate discipline and started hitting our pitches. Our defense was more solid than it has been lately and we just took it from there. It's getting close to end of the year. If we can stay on a roll and win a few games, we could be playing our best ball when the section playoffs start."
The Wildcats (7-7 overall, 6-4 conference) will host St. Francis tomorrow in a doubleheader starting at 3:45 p.m. at Chisago Lakes. Jangor said "We've lost five in a row to them over the last couple of years, all by one run. It's a nice little rivalry. They have another good team this year and we're looking forward to these two games." The Wildcats play their final two regular season home games next week, hosting Irondale on Monday at 4:30 and Benilde-St. Margaret's at 4:15 on Tuesday.
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