Grand Island Northwest capped off a stellar regular season as the Vikings routed Columbus Lakeview 11-1.
Northwest, which ended the regular season at 24-2, scored early and often as it found ways to display all aspects of its offensive attack. The Vikings jumped to a 4-0 lead after the first inning, turning a walk and two hits into four runs as aggressive baserunning helped force three Lakeview errors.
Ashley Scherer opened the Northwest half of the first with a walk, scoring on a single by Hannah Rathke. Shelby Schacher then rocketed a shot off third baseman Lizzy Cunningham. Maddi Jussel then squared to bunt, and an error at first base allowed two runs to come across. Jussel added to the tally moments later after another i nfield error by Lakeview.
The visitors managed only three hitters in the second inning, and when Northwest returned to the plate things happened in a hurry. Mariah Franklin singled to open the inning, followed by successful bunts by Scherer and Rathke. Schacher followed with a double to the fence in left to bring the score up to 6-0. The Vikings’ next two batters went down, but Northwest came back to life with two outs. Laura Springer connected for another double for a pair of RBIs, then scored on a single from Maddie Freidt. Alyssa Vanosdall singled, then Franklin came through with another hit to give Northwest an 11-0 lead after two.
Viking coach Dave Prokesh said that his team did a good job taking advantage of the opportunities as they presented themselves.
"I thought that we played very well offensively," he said. "We made good contact with the ball, we had good pitch selection, and we ran the bases well. I really liked what I saw out there fro the girls."
Lakeview (9-11) rallied to get on the board in the third inning, but even that proved to be a mixed blessing. Lakeview opened with a walk and two singles to load the bases, but a fly ball to center caught the runner off second, and even though it surrendered a run, the Vikings got the next hitter out to end the inning. Northwest was unable to score in the third, although Schacher delivered her third hit, another double, but came back to hold Lakeview scoreless in the top of the fourth, ending the game on the 10-run rule.
"Our defense has been pretty solid all year, and I thought we showed that tonight," Prokesh said. "Alyssa has been very strong for us on the mound. She’s shown better control of her pitches as the season’s gone on, and she really keeps hitters off balance."
With districts looming, Prokesh said the message for his team remains the same.
"The girls have to understand it’s about execution and how we play," he said. "We’ve pushed that message all year. We need to stay the course, and be ready to step up when our time comes."
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Northwest 11, Columbus Lakeview 1
Columbus Lakeview (9-11) ... 001 0 — 1 4 3
Northwest (24-2) .................. 470 x — 11 10 1
2B — NW, Schacher (2), Springer. WP — Vanosdall. LP — Langmack.