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Vikes capture regional title

May 31, 2012
Huntington North High School

Vikes capture regional title

BY AUSTAN KAS akas@h-ponline.com | Thursday, May 31, 2012


Power drive
Huntington North's Makayla Whaley drives a single to leftfield during Tuesday night's regional game against Carroll. The Vikes routed the Chargers, 8-0, to advance to the semi-state.

FORT WAYNE — Erin Rethlake needs to pretend every game is a regional contest.

For the second straight season, Rethlake blasted a key regional home run, and the Huntington North softball team routed Carroll, 8-0, Tuesday night in the one-game Carroll Regional. Rethlake also did damage in the circle, tossing a complete-game shutout and running her postseason scoreless streak to 24 innings.

Kaylynn Rosen had three hits, including a long home run of her own, as Huntington North racked up 12 knocks on the day.

The offensive explosion came after the Vikings scratched out just one run in its sectional championship win over Homestead.

“That’s the way we wanted to hit against Homestead,” said Huntington North coach Paris Seibold. “Everybody was hitting. I didn’t think we were going to hit two home runs. Both of those were shots, too. Did Rosen’s ball come down over there, or not? It was way out of here.”

With the win, which was the Vikes’ second straight regional title and fourth in school history, Huntington North advances to Saturday’s Harrison (West Lafayette) Semi-State. There, the Vikings (21-7) will play Chesterton (21-10) — who upset third-ranked Lake Central, 10-8, in its regional contest — at 11 a.m. Tenth-ranked Carmel (24-6) and No. 4 Northridge (29-1) will tangle at 1 p.m. in the other semifinal. The championship bout is slated for 7 p.m.

Rethlake missed most of the regular season with a knee injury, but returned in time to pitch the Vikings to their second straight sectional title. The regional contest was the first game where she was cleared to hit.

“I’ve hit twice in the last seven weeks,” said Rethlake, whose last long ball came in the Vikes’ 2011 regional win over East Noble. “Does that even count as hitting? I’ve hit a little bit but not enough to feel comfortable. When the doctor told me I was cleared to hit, my mom was like ‘Erin, stop smiling like that!’ I was just so excited.”

After striking out in her first at-bat, Rethlake launched a two-run jack to deep centerfield in the third inning, putting Huntington North in front 2-0. It was all the run support she needed.

“My first at-bat, (Carroll) came out and threw me two strikes that I took,” said Rethlake, who has yet to give up a run this postseason. “I don’t like getting behind in the count. So that second time up I told myself I was going to go for the first good pitch I see. I had all that anger built up inside and just kind of let it out there.”

Tosha Grover led off the fourth with a triple, and Laura Daronatsy followed with a sacrifice-fly to make it 3-0.

Huntington North put the game away with a four-run fifth inning.

Alyssa Grabner and Audrey Hiner sparked the surge with back-to-back ringing doubles. Rosen smacked an RBI-single to leftfield, and Grover pushed a run across with a groundout. Makayla Whaley capped the rally with an RBI-single to center.

“It was great in the dugout,” Hiner said of the Vikes’ rally. “We were all pumped up. Everyone was at the fence. It was awesome.”

The victory was particularly special for Hiner, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, forcing her to watch the Vikings’ 2011 semi-state run from the bench.

“This was really awesome,” Hiner said. “Last year, I was there supporting my teammates, but to actually experience it was awesome. I’m just getting the adrenaline of actually playing instead of sitting on the sidelines.”

The offensive outbreak was more than enough for Rethlake. The sophomore left-hander, making her third start since coming back from her knee injury, scattered five hits and fanned six over seven dominant innings.

“Erin threw really well,” Seibold said. “She was hitting her spots and keeping the ball low. She did great.”

Carroll (14-13) had four of its hits in the first three innings, but Rethlake settled in and retired the final 10 Chargers. In 24 postseason innings, Rethlake has allowed zero runs on 11 hits while fanning 32.

Rosen led the offense, going 3-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs. Hiner finished 2-for-4 with a double, run and RBI. Whaley was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Grover had a triple, RBI and run scored.

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