Vikings bring the heat

Last week saw the Vikings’ baseball team play two of its most important games of the season. Visits to Mount Vernon Christian and Friday Harbor provided top-tier tests of how the season would go.

The opener against the Hurricanes was a battle for the league, with the winner of that game coming out as not only the league favorite but the district favorite as well.

As the visitors, the Vikings got the first bats against MVC and they got out hot. Calder Jones led off with a base hit, and the Vikings were putting runners on early. Hayden Shaefer would hit Jones home but that would be all Orcas had to show for their first inning. A combination of walks and errors would give the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead after an inning.

Jones would lead off again in the third inning and scored once again. With the game tied at 2-2, things would remain quiet until MVC went ahead on a 1-out double in the fourth. Needing a run in the fifth, Orion Meskew’s lead-off walk had the Vikings threatening, and two base hits to follow set the Vikings up to break things open. But it wasn’t to be as MVC maneuvered their way out of the jam and got to the plate. With the Vikings’ surge at bay, MVC had their chance to run up the score, and that, they did. After a lead-off K, five straight Hurricane batters would score to make it 8-2. That would be all she wrote as the Vikings would get the bases loaded again, but again failed to score. A game that was much closer than the scoreline shows was a disappointing afternoon for the Vikings, but it means that when MVC comes to the island, it will be must-watch baseball.

Jones was the life of the offense as he went 2/2 with two walks and both Viking runs. Jones and Shaefer threw the entirety of the game with Shaefer throwing 3.1 innings and Jones 2.2. Both pitchers struck out six batters in good performances.

After the disappointing visit, the Vikings took a boat ride to Friday Harbor to play the Wolverines on March 22. Before Friday’s match-up, the Vikings were winless against the Wolverines under head coach Eli Sanders. But this game was a big change. Joe Stephens would be the first base runner and the first run of the game as he returned to throwing after an early injury. Stephens would be the only run in the first, but a huge second inning saw the Vikings up by four.

The Wolverines seemed to have no answer at bat and could only watch as the Vikings made it 5-0 in the third. But the Wolverines were far from done, forcing seven walks in the bottom half of the third to tie the game at 5. It could have been more had Orcas not gotten a huge play at the plate. The good news for the Vikings was just because the game was close, did not mean the bats were slowing down. The fourth inning saw two more runs as Shaefer’s double would put the Vikings back up. A 1-2-3 fifth for the Wolverines got the Vikings back up and from here they would put it away. The walks started to benefit the visitors and they scored five runs in the inning thanks to six walks. The Wolverines would show life in the sixth as they scored a run, but Shaefer came in to close for the Vikings and shut things down. The final score was Orcas 13, Wolverines 7.

An up-and-down performance was enough for a huge win for the Vikings’ season, handling business in one of the most challenging environments they will see all year. Stephens looked as healthy as can be as he went 3-4 with a walk and 4 runs scored. Shaefer and Moose Kinsey totaled 2 RBIs each. Calder Jones got the start but only faced three batters after an injury forced him out of the game after a scoreless first inning. Eddie Cunnigham made a relief appearance, striking out three in 1.1 innings of work, and Kinsey was the long reliever as he threw 3.2 innings giving up just two runs.

The Vikings have another big week as they face Coupeville at home followed by a Friday, March 29 road trip to a La Conner team that currently sits at the top of the league standings.

The Lady Vikings softball team also took on the Friday Harbor Wolverines on March 22. The final score was Wolverines 13 and Orcas, 3. The Vikings rallied at the end with a handful of runs. The team took on Sehome and Anacortes on March 23, losing 17-2 and 23-3.

“It is better to try and fail, and learn through those mistakes, and try, and try again, than to fail and never step back up to the plate,” said senior Krystal Luchterhand.

The Vikings’ first conference game is March 26 against Coupeville on Orcas. The team will face La Conner this Friday followed by Concrete on Saturday. Both are away games.

The Vikings track team competed at Coupeville on March 20. Its next meet is at Mt. Vernon High School on March 28.

Heather Spaulding photo.
Heather Spaulding photo.
Milana Schneider during the game against Friday Harbor.

Heather Spaulding photo. Milana Schneider during the game against Friday Harbor.

Keri Duenn photo.
Left to right: Soli Halabisky, Malia Martinolich, Ava Ashcraft and Sofia Mahony-Jauregui participated in the relay event at track on March 20.

Keri Duenn photo. Left to right: Soli Halabisky, Malia Martinolich, Ava Ashcraft and Sofia Mahony-Jauregui participated in the relay event at track on March 20.