FORT WAYNE – Again, Huntington North used an emotional recipe to get to the Class 4A softball semistate.
Led by the pitching and hitting of sophomore Erin Rethlake, the Vikings blanked host Carroll 8-0 on Tuesday in a 4A regional.
Huntington North (21-7) again got the shutout pitching and a big home run from Rethlake, which seemed to have a calming effect on both team and pitching ace.
That was a bomb, Huntington North coach Paris Seibold said of Rethlakes two-run home run to center field in the third inning. It was gone from the moment it took off. It relaxed us, and we started hitting the ball. We did the same thing in the regional last year against East Noble. She hit a home run last year, and it took off from there.
Rethlakes homer gave the Vikings a 2-0 lead, and she made it stand up by striking out six and scattering six hits. The left-handed Kentucky recruit admitted she didnt have her best stuff and was nothing near her almost-perfect game in a 1-0 win in the sectional finals against Homestead last Friday.
I was off pitching, she said. I felt like no pitches worked, but I know the team is behind me to back me up so it didnt matter. I just tried to hit my spots.
I took two strikes in my first (at-bat), and that frustrated me a lot. All the anger built up and (the home run) happened.
Kaylynn Rosen added a solo home run, almost to the same spot in center field as Rethlakes, and had three hits as the Vikings returned to the semistate.
Huntington North, which lost to Carmel 8-0 in last years semistate, will play Chesterton (21-10) in the semifinals at Harrison (West Lafayette) at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Wearing a brace on her right knee, Rethlake was making only her third start after having meniscus surgery three weeks ago and said her knee started bothering her a little bit in her final at-bat. She didnt walk a batter and the home run was her only hit of the game.
We came out with the thought process that we needed to hit the ball, said Rethlake, whose Vikings got 12 hits off three Carroll pitchers. Thats what we needed to do, and then everything would be fine.
Carroll (14-13) had four of its hits in the first three innings, including two getting runners on with only one out in the third, but Rethlake pitched out of trouble and retired the final 10 Chargers.
Not taking anything away from her, but we did hit her hard at times, Carroll coach Donnetta Betley said of Rethlake. And we pretty much kept her off-balance at-bat, except for the big out-of-the-park home run.
The regional appearance was the first for Carroll (14-13) in six years.
Very few teams from Carroll have made it to this point, and we are just honored to be one of the teams that made it, Betley said. It is a learning experience. You just have to come back next year with that knowledge, armed ready to go.