The lady Vikings came from behind in the sixth inning to crush La Conner’s hopes of a repeat victory over Orcas.
“It was definitely a nailbiter,” said coach Scott Harris of the May 3 home game. “It was my most favorite game so far.” When the teams last met, the Braves defeated the Vikings 17-7 under a deluge of freezing rain.
“We got beat. We knew we were better than we played that day; this was an opportunity to prove that,” he said.
Prove their mettle they did that day, to the giddy applause of their fans.
Swift and solid hurling by both pitchers, backed by a strong defense, piled up goose eggs on the scoreboard until the third inning, when a La Conner hitter broke through to score.
“Both teams had opportunities earlier in the game to break the score open, but great pitching from both teams really kept it tight,” Harris said.
Orcas responded in the fourth inning when Brook Bruland crushed a triple far into the outfield. Lana Bronn came behind her and smashed a hard single to bring Bruland home.
It was a quiet fifth inning; then, at the top of the sixth the Braves knocked in two runs, bringing the score to 3-1.
The Vikings lined up and toed the plate with new determination: they needed two runs to tie the game. Instead they brought in four.
Orcas had one out when Bronn got things started with a hard single; Alicia Susol stepped up and nailed a triple that brought Bronn in to score.
“I don’t know when I would rather [score] than playing La Conner,” Bronn said.
Speedster Huxley Smart came in as pinch runner for Susol and Adria Garcia got to first on an error, bringing Smart home for another run.
Sophie Thixton subbed in for Adria, stole second, and slid home as Ashley Klein bunted her way to first.
After gaining their first lead of the game at 4-3, the lady Vikings weren’t ready to lay down their bats: the combination of a single by Emily Bodenhamer and a bunt by Lindsay Anderson sent Klein sailing homeward bound to clean up the inning.
With La Conner’s best hitters up for the last inning, “we definitely had our work cut out for us,” Harris said. Adria struck out the first batter. The Braves’ top hitter smacked a single to land on first. Soon after, she was picked off by Susol when aggressive leading off got her into a pickle between Bruland on first and Bodenhamer on short stop, and Bodenhamer ran her down.
The next two hitters walked; the final hitter whaled a hit deep into center field, where Bronn pulled it in to end the game 5-3.
“The whole game was kind of a thrill. I’m just really excited for state this year,” she said.
“It was a great game for our girls,” Harris said. “They came together as a team, stayed focused, communicated, and stayed in the battle all seven innings. A couple of times the bases were loaded; the defense really battled in some tight situations. The team is learning how to compete and matured through this game.” The Vikings had only two errors and Adria racked up 12 strikeouts against a team of formidable hitters. Added Harris, “To have our freshman catcher start challenging base runners – [Susol] is really maturing as a player.”
The win keeps Viking hopes of a league title alive.
To clinch the title – as well as earn the top seed in the Northwest 2b/1A league, and an automatic berth at state – the Vikings will need to take down Friday Harbor twice in a May 5 double-header at Buck Park.