May 4, 2018 at 12:43 p.m.
North Branch 8, Buffalo 0
Because of all the weather delays, North Branch was tasked with opening their season against defending Class AAAA state consolation champion and the top ranked team in the preseason in Class AAAA Buffalo.
To make matters tougher for the Vikings, Buffalo had already played three games against some high profile competition in Wayzata, Cambridge-Isanti and Chanhassan and won handily. They had outscored the three teams 40-6.
None of that mattered once the two teams stepped on the diamond. Senior Sam Pederson dominated from the pitching circle and at the plate and she led the charge as North Branch dominated Buffalo 8-0.
Pederson tossed a complete game shutout, giving up eight hits and striking out five. She also went three-for-four at the plate with two RBIs and three runs.
The Vikings jumped out to an early lead, scoring two runs off of Buffalo starter Morgan DeMarais in the top of the first inning. They put up another crooked number in the fifth inning, scoring four runs with DeMarais still in the game, and they topped off their offensive assault with two more runs in the seventh inning.
Amber Yoch and Macy Brodin both also had multi-hit games for North Branch. Yoch went two-for-four with two RBIs and a run and Brodin went two-for-four with one run. Sophie Smith had only one hit, but it was a big one, a homerun off of DeMarais with a runner on. Liz Gladitsch added an RBI for North Branch on one hit.
Pederson’s performance from the pitching rubber was maybe the most impressive of her career. Buffalo features multiple dangerous hitters and they’ve averaged over 13 runs per game in the other five games they’ve played.
North Branch 11, Champlin Park 1
Another game, another ranked Class AAAA opponent blown away.
North Branch participated in a triple header at Mahtomedi High School on Saturday, April 28 and they opened it with a game against Champlin Park. The Rebels came into the season ranked 13th in the biggest class in the state and were 4-2 heading into Saturday, averaging over 12 runs a game.
Pederson took the rubber again, and she erased the Rebel offense. She pitched all five innings, giving up just one hit and striking out 10. She also added a two-run homerun on offense, but it was a balanced attack from the plate that got NB to 11 runs quickly.
All nine batters had a hit for North Branch, with Gladitsch, Cassie Sinn, Kristy Pilz, Smith, Emma Hurd and Pederson all picking up RBIs. Pilz had four RBIs on just one hit, forcing a run in with one of her walks.
North Branch 8, Mahtomedi 0
The Vikings kept their roll going in the second game of the day, shutting out the Zephyrs in five innings.
Pederson again went the distance, upping her record to 3-0. Although the games were shortened because of the long day already, Pederson did throw a no-hitter against Mahtomedi, although they did draw five walks against her. She struck out four.
Impressively, she kept her offensive output high, also, going three-for-four with one run. Gladitsch knocked out two doubles and drove in a run, Yoch went three-for-four with an RBI and a run and Brodin went two-for-three on the day.
North Branch also drew three walks and was able to take advantage of three Mahtomedi errors.
North Branch 8, Wayzata 4
The Vikings had to fight for their first close game of the year in their finale on the day.
Although Wayzata is one of the biggest schools in the state, they are 0-6 on the year playing some very tough competition. Mentally, North Branch was wearing out after the long day and it showed a bit in this game as they didn’t have the safety blanket of Pederson starting the game.
The Vikings did score first, putting up a run in the first inning and in the third inning, but the Trojans answered back with two in bottom of the third. North Branch retook the lead in the top of the fourth inning with one run and added two more in the fifth inning.
Pesky Wayzata wouldn’t go away, though, answering back with two more runs in the fifth inning, trimming the lead to 5-4 for North Branch.
The Vikings gave themselves breathing room, though, scoring three runs in the top of the sixth, and the Trojans couldn’t answer back with any runs in the bottom half, giving the Vikings their third win of the day.
Pederson still did get the nod in centerfield and she didn’t disappoint from the plate, going three-for-three with a walk, two stolen bases one RBI and four runs. Kate Berg did a lot of the damage driving Pederson home, going two-for-three with three RBIs and one run. Smith and Pilz added RBIs for North Branch in the victory.
North Branch 1, St. Michael-Albertville 0
The Vikings slayed another giant earlier this week, topping undefeated St. Michael-Albertville behind another stellar performance from Pederson. She threw eight innings of shut out ball, and mashed a walk-off triple, scoring Gladitsch to send the Lady Vikes to a 5-0 start on the season.
“We were able to see and face adversity and a new challenge against St. Michael. Though we didn't have the offense we have been used to, our pitching and defense kept us where we needed to be until our hitting came around,” Head Coach Kathy Crudo said. “I think having an older team that has been in those situations really helped us remain composed on defense and at the mound. Hitting wise, STMA's pitcher just had us off balance and second guessing our approaches. Hats off to her. She did everything she needed to do every inning out there.”
The brutal schedule continues this week for the girls. They will take on undefeated Rogers on Thursday, May 3. The Royals are 5-0 and have outscored their opponents 38-6 on the year so far.
“Our goal this year is to take every at bat, pitch, play for what it is. One pitch at a time,” Crudo said. “I think practicing at a high tempo helps them slow the game down during the games and they have been doing just that. They have been able to field that ground ball, do what they needed to in each count, swing, and at-bat and created a flow that runs itself.”