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One step short

June 3, 2012
Huntington North High School

One step short

Northridge Lady Raiders fall 1-0 in semistate finals


WEST LAFAYETTE — The Northridge Raiders’ incredible season has come to an end. The Raiders dropped a heartbreaker to Huntington North, 1-0 Saturday night in the championship game of the Class 4A Northern Semistate at West Lafayette Harrison.

With a battle of two top pitchers – backed by two excellent defenses – it was apparent early on that the winner was going to be the team that took best advantage of the slightest opening.

Northridge appeared to have created that opening in the bottom of the fourth. Haley Schrock led off with a double, and with one out, the Raiders caught a break when a Caity Pixley blooper dropped right behind second base. But a double play erased the Northridge threat.

Huntington North mounted its own threat in the top of the fifth, with Kaylynn Rosen drawing a lead walk. She was erased on a fielder’s choice by Alyssa Hiple, and Hiple moved to second on an error. She went to third on a passed ball, but was left there when a groundout ended the inning.

The Vikings threatened again in the top of the sixth, getting Makaela Whaley on with a bloop single to right. Whaley was forced at second, but on the ensuing play, a throw to second got away, and the Vikings were in business with runners at the corners and just one out.

Northridge needed a big-time-play – and the Raiders got it from third baseman Haley Schrock, who handled a hot smash hit her way, tagged out the Huntington North runner, and fired to first.

Double play. Inning over. Threat liquidated.

The Raiders found themselves threatening in their half of the sixth. Brianne O’Dell stroked a one-out triple down the right-field line. But the Raiders were unable to get the run in, as Huntington North pitcher Erin Rethlake bore down and got a pair of strikeouts to deny the Raider rally.

Rethlake helped herself with the bat as the led off the top of the seventh with a booming solo homer to right-center. The Vikings threatened to add insurance runs, getting runners to second and third with one out, but the Raiders were able to buckle down and get some key plays to get out of the inning.

Unfortunately, the Raiders were unable to mount a comeback in their half of the inning.

With the loss, Northridge finishes 30-2 – but for head coach Bo O’Dell, the best part of the season is not the wins, not the softball, but the relationships forged among the team.

“It’s about the way the team comes together,” O’Dell said. “There are some tears right now, but we have nothing to be ashamed of. At this level, softball is a game of luck, and our luck ran out. We had some chances, but Huntington North had the player tonight.”

That player would be Rethlake, a sophomore who missed 19 games this season with a meniscus tear in a knee and just made it back in time for the sectional tournament.

“The doctor said I had the fastest rehab he’d seen,” Rethlake said. “It was killing me to be on the bench, not out there with my teammates.”

Getting not only the win in the circle, but also the game-winning RBI made up for all the missed games, Rethlake said with a big smile on her face.

Huntington North coach Paris Seibold said he sensed that one run was going to be the difference in this one.

“Both teams had their chances all night long, but couldn’t seem to get it done,” Seibold said. “I told Erin to snap her wrists and drive something. Boy, did she.”

The Raiders will say goodbye to just three seniors: catcher Conner Crist; first baseman Caity  Pixley; and outfielder Brittany Wingard.

Northridge was without outfielder Kelcie Caples on Saturday; the Raider junior fractured a leg in two places at practice earlier in the week.

Semistate semifinals - Northridge 2, Carmel 0

Earlier, Northridge moved to within one win of a berth in next week’s IHSAA state tournament with a victory over defending Class 4A state champion Carmel.

The offensive output was just enough to win on an afternoon when Northridge ace Haley Nixon was her usual self: She struck out six and kept the Greyhound hitters off balance all afternoon.

“We had some other opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of, but luckily, those two runs were enough,” O’Dell said. “We had girls in the right positions to make the plays behind Haley.”

The Raiders (30-1) wasted little time jumping on the Greyhounds in the home half of the first. Madison Schrock drew a walk, was sacrificed to second by Brianne O’Dell, and moved to third when Haley Schrock rocketed an infield single off the glove of Carmel pitcher Lauren Swenson. Madison Schrock came home when Haley Schrock took off on the double steal and the throw went into center field. Haley Schrock later scored on a wild pitch to put the Raiders up 2-0.

Northridge had a chance to add to its tally in the second, but the Raiders left the bases loaded.

From there, the contest settled into a defensive pitcher’s duel between Northridge’s Haley Nixon and Swenson.

Carmel coach Emily Good said her team didn’t hit the ball as well as it usually does.

“When we did make good contact, it was right at people,” Good said. “Give Northridge the credit. That’s a good pitcher over there (Nixon).”


Semistate semifinal

Northridge 2, Carmel 0

Carmel      000 000 0 – 0  4  1

Northridge 200 000 x -  2  4  0

Pitching: (Carmel) Lauren Swenson (L) four strikeouts, five walks. (Northridge) Haley Nixon (W) six strikeouts, no walks.

Hitting: (Carmel) Kennedy Haynes, 1-for-3; Lauren  Godden 1-for-3; Katie Bourgerie 1-for-3; Emily Morris 1-for-3. (Northridge) Brooke Maes 1-for-2, double; Madison Schrock single, run scored.


Semistate championship

Huntington North 1, Northridge 0

Hun. North 000 000 1 – 1  4  1

Northridge 000 000 0  - 0  4  1

Pitching: (Huntington North) Erin Rethlake (W) seven strikeouts, one walk. (Northridge) Haley Nixon (L) two strikeouts, one walk.

Hitting: (Huntington North) Rethlake 1-for-3, HR. (Northridge) Haley Schrock 1-for-2, double; Brianna O’Dell 1-for-3, triple; Brooke Maes 1-for-3; Caity Pixley 1-for-3.

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