HALL OF FAME
ATHLETE OF THE MONTH
ï»¿Vikings ready for state - HERALD PRESS
June 8, 2012Huntington North High School
Vikings ready for state
BY AUSTAN KAS firstname.lastname@example.org | Friday, June 8, 2012
BIG BAT - Kaylynn Rosen, pictured running to third base during a regular season contest, is hitting a team-best .413 with three home runs and 11 doubles.
For the first time in the history of the Huntington North softball program, the Vikings are going to play for the state championship.
Huntington North (23-7) will face off with Plainfield (22-9) in the Class 4A State Championship Game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. The Vikes will be going for the school’s third state crown, with the other two coming in girls’ basketball (1990, 1995).
Since winning the Harrison Semi-State June 2, it’s been anything but business as usual for Huntington North.
“I think all of it has hit some of us and kind of worn off by now,” sophomore ace Erin Rethlake said at Tuesday’s practice, “but I don’t think it’s even hit half of us. We really don’t know the extent of everything. Hopefully it stays like that until after state.”
Huntington North advanced to the semi-state in 2011, but looked overmatched and overwhelmed by the environment in an opening-round loss to Carmel. The Greyhounds also had something to do with it as they went on to win the state title.
In this year’s semi-state, the Vikings appeared right at home in the big-game environment. Huntington North picked up a 3-1 win over Chesterton in the semifinals before edging No. 4 Northridge, 1-0, in the semi-state title game.
Huntington North coach Paris Seibold wants his team to treat Saturday night’s championship game as if it were any other game.
“Everybody gets nervous in these kinds of games,” Seibold said. “(At the semi-state), the girls were relaxed and focused. We need to be the same way down at state. There will be a lot of people there, maybe more than we’re used to, but we still need to perform. When you get out there on the field, it’s the same game whether it’s the state championship or a regular season game.
“There’s a lot of excitement,” he added. “We’ve been getting a lot of attention. It’s been nice. We’ve had an awfully good team these past two years. I think most people knew we were pretty good, but no one really expected us to go to state.”
Both Plainfield and Huntington North are unranked and in the midst of red-hot runs through the postseason.
Rethlake has been overpowering for the Vikings, and Huntington North’s defense has been there when called upon. The Vikes have allowed just one run — an unearned run — in six playoff games.
“Our confidence level is really high,” said sophomore second baseman Makayla Whaley. “There’s a lot of excitement. I think if we work as a team like we’ve been doing, we should be able to pull it off pretty well. We need to keep each other up. We really need to stay focused.”
Part of the reason Huntington North has flown under the radar and stayed out of the rankings is due to Rethlake’s early-season knee injury. Rethlake missed 19 games, returning in time for the postseason.
Seibold said having to play without its star forced Huntington North to become better as a team. Once Rethlake came back, the Vikes hit the ground running.
“I think not having Erin play kind of made us play a little harder,” Seibold said. “Brianna (McClellan) did a great job filling in pitching-wise, but other teams put the ball in play a little bit more. That forced our defense to step up. I think it ended up being a plus for us. We had to play better as a team when Erin wasn’t with us.”
Plainfield has allowed just three runs in its five postseason contests but hasn’t had to play a ranked foe yet. The Quakers got to the title game by defeating Franklin Central (1-0 in eight innings) and Roncalli (3-1) at the Center Grove Semi-State.
Hallie Johanningsmeier is Plainfield’s top hitter with a .370 average, three home runs and 37 hits. Katie Gilbert is hitting .322 with three long balls, and Brook Bryant checks in with a .362 average.
Courtney Collins is the Quakers’ ace. Collins is 14-4 with a 0.90 ERA. She has struck out 139 hitters in 108 innings while allowing 75 hits and 14 earned runs.
“Plainfield is an aggressive base running team,” Seibold said. “They’ll bunt in certain situations. They will put the ball in play, and when they get runners on they like to advance them. I know they steal quite a lot. We’re going to have to be alert.”
Sophomore first baseman Kaylynn Rosen leads Huntington North at the plate. Rosen is hitting .413 with three homers, 11 doubles and 32 RBIs. Junior third baseman Audrey Hiner is batting .402 with 10 doubles. Senior backstop Alyssa Grabner (.393, seven doubles) and Rethlake (.333, three home runs in 27 at-bats) cap the Vikes’ top hitters.
Also batting over .300 are freshman leftfielder Tosha Grover (.300), freshman designated hitter Maddie Kennedy (.327) and senior rightfielder Peyton Pike (.333).
Rethlake, a sophomore, has pitched in nine games this season and totes a near-invisible 0.24 ERA. In 59 innings, she’s fanned 84 and walked 10 while allowing just two earned runs on 31 hits.
“I’m going to rely on the girls to help me stay calm,” Rethlake said. “It’s just a game; we’ve played it forever. Softball is what we do every day, so it’s not going to be anything different. It’ll just be on a bigger stage.”
Win or lose, Saturday’s game will be the final one for Huntington North’s seniors.
“It’s exciting but kind of upsetting, too,” senior shortstop Jordie Close said. “It’s exciting to go this far your last year. It’d be awesome to win it.”