Vikings split busy week

Six games in six days for NB softball girls

Ninth-grader Sam Pederson takes a swing during a home game earlier this season.
Ninth-grader Sam Pederson takes a swing during a home game earlier this season.

The North Branch girls softball squad had a full schedule last week, having played six games in six days.
The Vikings kicked off its busy week last Tuesday with a tough loss on the road against Rogers, losing 13-5.
North Branch put two runs on the board right away in the bottom of the first, but lost the lead in the next few innings as Rogers showed up to play. The home team posted four runs in the second inning, three runs in the third inning and six runs in the fourth to cap the scoring and seal the win.
Head coach Brian Robelia said that wasn’t the way he’d hoped to start out a long stretch of games.
“That’s one we’d like to forget,” Robelia said.
The Vikings turned the tides two days later while hosting St. Michael-Albertville.
The Knights hit the board first with back-to-back singles, and a string of sacrifice fly balls gave them a 2-0 advantage. The visitors added to their lead in the top of the fifth inning with one run.
The Vikings came around in the bottom of the fifth inning, starting with a single to left field by ninth-grader Sam Pederson. A fielding error by the Knight shortstop put senior Sydney Meath on base, while senior Paige Yoch drove Pederson across the plate with an RBI single to left field.
Meath crossed home plate when junior Jackie Bossard laced her own single to left field to make it a 3-2 game. Yoch, on third base, then tied things up at three when a pick-off attempt by the Knight catcher ricocheted off her teammate’s glove and out of bounds. Yoch beat the throw for the tying run.
The winning run came an inning later for the Vikings, when junior Kaylee Sheppick pulled a pinch-hit single and then moved to second base on an error by the opposing outfielder. A passed ball advanced Sheppick to third base, where she soon scored on a RBI single to center field by Pederson.
Ninth-grader Katelyn Berg was the winning pitcher on the day.
North Branch enjoyed a one-day break before heading to Sauk Rapids on Saturday for an eight-team tournament. The Vikings placed fifth by going 1-2.
Duluth East took the title, while Faribault came in second place.
The Vikings started with a 9-7 loss to St. Cloud Tech before defeating Thief River Falls, 6-5, behind winning pitcher Pederson, who had four strikeouts. The Vikings closed the tournament with a 6-5 loss to Sartell.
“I think the girls were just exhausted by the end of the Sartell game,” Robelia said. “They weren’t used to that kind of heat yet, and it showed. We were worn out.”
Robelia’s squad came back on Monday night to cap the long week with a 12-5 victory on the road at Big Lake. Berg earned the win on the mound with four strikeouts.
North Branch is now 5-11 overall, 1-7 in the Mississippi 8 Conference and 1-5 against Section 7AAA opponents.
Robelia, in his first season as head coach, said he was pleased with his team’s effort, but wants to see the Vikings close out more tight games. North Branch has suffered four one-point losses this year.
He said he hopes to solidify his defense and focus on concentration at the plate.
“We’re a young and inexperienced team with four starting freshmen,” Robelia said. “They’re in the learning process, so the more games, the better. We are improving, just not as quickly as I’d like.”

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