April 14, 2011 at 9:18 a.m.
In a barnburner of a game to open the season, the Vikings outslugged the Tigers of Fridley 12-8.
North Branch got on the board four times in the bottom of the first inning on two hits from Chelsea Tollberg and Erin Kvam, two walks by Emily Trunk and Chelsey Emery-Snaza and two Fridley errors.
With Kelci Lofboom pitching, the Vikes were hoping that four runs would already be enough, but Fridley had other plans.
They got three unearned runs in the second on two hits, a walk and two NB errors. The Tigers made it 4-4 in the top of the third, scoring a run on two hits and walk.
The shootout continued into the bottom of the third inning when Kvam and Emery-Snaza drew walks, a fielders choice bunt from Sydney Mueller, and a bases clearing triple off the bat of Kallie Grote. Kari Berggren followed the triple with an RBI single to put the Vikings up 8-4.
Fridley continued their own offensive onslaught, plating two more runs in the fifth inning on four hits -- one of which was a triple -- and an error.
The Vikings struck right back in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three runs on three singles from Mikayla Carlson, Tollberg and Emery-Snaza and a walk.
Just as it seemed North Branch might be starting to pull away, the Tigers got two unearned runs on a hit, a walk and two North Branch errors in the top of the sixth inning.
North Branch finally closed the scoring with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning after a Berggren double and a Lofboom single.
Lofboom went five innings to get the win, giving up nine hits, six runs -- three earned -- and one walk.
Emily Trunk got the save, going the last two innings and allowing one hit, one walk and two unearned runs.
"Kelci threw strikes for us," Head Coach Ron Trunk said after the ugly defensive game. "We needed to support her better with our defense. It was nice to see us hit the ball today -- seven of the nine starters had at least one hit, Carlson, Tollberg Emery-Snaza and Berrgren each had two -- but we will need to play better defense to keep up the better teams in the conference."
Cambridge-Isanti 7, North Branch 2
The Vikings didn't quite get the offensive pop the next day when they hosted the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejackets.
After a slow first three innings, Cambridge-Isanti scored four times on four hits, a walk and a fielders choice.
With time running out, the Jackets put the proverbial nail in the coffin in the top of the sixth inning. They drew two walks and belted three singles to plate three more runs and stretch the lead to 7-0 with only two North Branch innings left.
The Vikings finally did get on the board as they tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh inning. Tollberg led off with a single, followed by another single by Berggren.
Kvam earned a sacrifice hit, moving both the runners up a base. Becca Blodgett, who was courtesy running for Tollberg, scored on a single by Emery-Snaza. Berggren advanced to third, and later scored on a passed ball.
Soon after, the rally ended though, and North Branch suffered their first loss of the year.
Trunk took the loss for NB going six innings. She gave up nine hits, walked four and struck out two. Lofboom pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning in relief.
"Defensively we played much better today," Trunk said. "Great plays were made in the field Mikayla Carlson at third, Berggren and Angel Buzay in the outfield and a diving stop by Grote that kept a runner from scoring."
Despite the defense, Emily Trunk struggled with her control on the night. "We will need her to get ahead in the count so she can use some of her other pitches," Coach Trunk said.
The Vikings mustered four hits, three of which came in the last inning, but made only one error after committing five in the season opener against Fridley.