Vikings continue with post-season play

by Cienna Richardson

Orcas High School junior

The Lady Vikings played several games throughout the past few weeks.

On April 23, they played a tough game against Coupeville leading to a box score of 6-18. Excited to head to Concrete, players learned that their team forfeited the rest of the games in the season, counting as a win towards districts for Orcas.

“In softball, we play as a team, we do our best and we have fun. This is my first and last year of playing softball and I have enjoyed it a lot,” said senior Meagan Kuntz. “The coaches are great and the team is wonderful. My positions are left and right field. I love playing out on the field to catch pop flies. This team is strong and I am so glad I got to experience this.”

As they jokingly call themselves, Lady Vikings ‘Gals’ played their senior game against La Conner on May 1, earning a win. During the parent and player recognition, family after family and their daughters stood with tears in their eyes, celebrating one of the last home games their daughters will play. The ‘Gals’ then proceeded to play a beautiful game resulting in a 28-12 win.

“The senior game was amazing! Thank you to everyone for supporting us through this journey, I am so grateful I got to spend time with my teammates. I’ll miss my lady Vikings,” said senior starting center fielder Valeria Villarreal.

On the following day, Orcas traveled to Darrington and played a very tight game with a score of 6-8. The team headed to districts and their first game was against Pope John Paul II High School at home on May 13 (after the Sounder went to press).

“This has been a challenging season. We started off playing bigger schools that were hard to compete with but it pushed us to do really well in league play. Hoping that we can keep going and be competitive in our postseason play as well,” said Vikings pitcher Lucy Rios.

by Jefferson Freeman

Orcas High School senior

What a week it was for Orcas Island baseball! After completing the regular season as league champions, the Vikings kept the momentum rolling through the district finals.

After handling business against Pope John Paul II High School, the Vikings got one more game in Eastsound. Rainier Christian came in as the second seed from the Sea-Tac league, facing off with the Vikings with the winner clinching a spot in the state tournament.

Rainier was fresh off a win over Sound Christian Academy, who had played the Vikings within a run earlier in the year. But that fact did nothing to deter the Vikigns who jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

The next inning would look similar as Orcas Island held the Mustangs scoreless and added three runs. The game would have a little back-and-forth from there, with Rainier Christian adding their only run to the scoreboard in the top of the third, but the Vikings would get that run back in the bottom half and add more over the next two innings. The Vikings ended up winning 11-1, clinching their spot in the state tournament, and giving them a shot at the district title.

Calder Jones started off the hill for the Vikings and split the day with Moose Kinsey as Jones threw 2.1 innings and Kinsey threw 2.2. The two would allow a combined 3 hits over 5 innings as Jones struck out 6 and Kinsey struck out 4.

At the plate it was some of the usual suspects, with a couple of big step-ups from the back of the order. Jones went 3-for-3 and scored 2 runs on the day, Hayden Shaefer would have 3 RBIs and both Orion Meskew and Andrew Ross would pick up multiple hits.

With that win the Vikings would ship off on Thursday, May 9 to meet a familiar foe in the district championship: Crosspoint Warriors. In the last two seasons, the Vikings and Warriors had played in the district tournament semi-finals, splitting the series. This time, a trophy was on the line.

As the visitor in this game, the Vikings were first up to bat and they took advantage. Joe Stephens and Schaefer would get aboard and with two outs. Kinsey stepped up to tear the game open. He ripped a shot into right centerfield, scoring Stephens and Shaefer while Kinsey ended up on third.

With the offense doing its thing, Jones took the bump for the Vikings. He came out firing and set the Vikings up to extend their lead. After two quick outs, Charles Hill took a pitch off the #7 on the back of his jersey to start a two-out rally. With Hayden Buehler entering to pinch run for the Vikings, catcher Jones’ base hit would send Buehler around the bases. With a go sign at third and a cut from the outfield Buehler, the ball arrived at the same time. And he was under the tag, 3-0 Vikings. The inning was far from over. Stephens reached on a base hit sending Jones to third, then Eddie Cunnigham hit Jones home. Cunningham stole second, and on a passed ball at the plate, Stephens would score standing. After Stephens crossed the plate it seemed the play should be over, but here came Cunnigham. Barreling down the line, Crosspoint didn’t find the ball until it was too late, and until it was 6-0 Orcas Island.

Jones got back up and held the Warriors scoreless to take things to the third inning. A couple swings is all the Vikings got in the third, but a Jefferson Freeman double to right center, followed by a hard hit base hit from Meskew added one more run. Things started looking up for Crosspoint in the next inning as they strung together walks and bloop hits to score four runs in an inning and cut the lead to 7-4. The top of the fourth was the first scorelss inning for the Vikings and Crosspoint looked right back in it.

Needing to extend, Shaefer led off with a base hit. Kinsey followed with a pop-up in the infield, but after the Crosspoint second baseman misplayed the ball it would hit Shaefer, allowing both Kinsey to be safe at first and Shaefer at second. Crosspoint was not happy with no call for interference, claiming that Shaefer should have been called out, but according to WIAA rules, the fielder had a chance to make a play, nulifying interference. Crosspoint would spend the better part of five minutes berating the umpires and eventually challenging the game. However, the call stood and the Vikings would add runs via Kinsey and Shaefer on another base hit from Meskew.

Despite the 9-4 score, Crosspoint came out with more firepower, adding two runs in the bottom of the fifth to keep this game on the ropes. Despite the effort, the Vikings’ bats were not going away. Stephens would score via a base hit from Shaefer and with two outs, Kinsey set up runners on the corners for Freeman. He took his chance and put the game away with a hard-hit triple over the head of the right fielder, scoring two more runs for the Vikings and arriving at the score of 12-6.

The Vikings brought Cunningham in for the final two innings and he shut things down. Four strikeouts in two innings held Crosspoint scoreless as the Vikings won their second district title in program history.

Orcas Island and the rest of Washington patiently awaited the State Tournament bracket. When it came out on Sunday morning, there was a lot of shock on the island. Despite winning the district and the league, the Vikings found themselves in the #7 seed, three spots behind Crosspoint.

The Vikings match-up with the Pomeroy Pirates on Tuesday, May 14 at 6 p.m. in Anacortes will start their run to the state tournament.