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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Huntington North’s Erin Rethlake rounds third base after hitting a home run in the fourth inning during the Homestead Sectional title game Friday night.
Homestead sectional

Vikings pitcher hurls no-hitter

Also hits home run against Archers in sectional title game

– A healthy Erin Rethlake has made the Huntington North softball team even better than last year’s Class 4A state runner-up.

Led by Rethlake, the Vikings started another postseason march with a 10-0, five-inning win Friday over South Side in the finals of the Homestead Sectional. It was the Vikings’ third straight sectional title.

The left-hander tossed a no-hitter and had 10 strikeouts, and she knocked in three runs with a double and a two-run home run. Only a walk in the fifth inning prevented Rethlake from getting a perfect game.

“I actually didn’t know about it until after, so I am not really worried about it,” Rethlake said of not retiring all 15 batters.

“It’s a team win, that’s all that matters. We were trying to come out tonight and make a statement.”

The Kentucky recruit missed 19 games last year after having surgery on her meniscus, but she returned in time to lead the Vikings through a postseason that finished with a 3-1 title game loss to Plainfield.

“It’s weird, and I am not used to it,” Rethlake said of playing the whole season. “It is nice coming into the postseason feeling strong instead of trying to heal.”

Rethlake is 19-0 with a 0.10 ERA this year, and the home run was her 14th.

“She is just phenomenal and really commands the plate well and hits the ball very well,” Huntington North coach Paris Seibold said. “She is definitely our leader, and she is a girl you can count on.”

Huntington North (24-2) will play at home in the regional against Carroll (25-6) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“We are excited about being at home,” Rethlake said. “We always seem to play better at home. We know (the Chargers) have gotten better, and we know we have gotten better so it’s going to be a good game.”

The No. 5 Vikings beat the No. 16 Chargers 9-1 in the regular season and 8-0 in last year’s regional.

“We are going to have to play well to beat them,” Seibold said. “It will be a good test for us. Last year, we really hit the ball hard up there. This year, all we have to do is come out and get our hits, and we will be fine.”

Against South Side, the Vikings jumped on the Archers early with a five-run first inning, highlighted by Kaylynn Rosen’s two-run home run to left field.

“Our girls came out and hit the ball and really set the tone,” Seibold said. “We came out hitting the ball hard.”

Huntington North scored two runs each in the third and fourth to go up 9-0. The mercy rule came into effect when Audrey Hiner got an RBI double in the fifth.

The Vikings beat Jay County 5-1 and Homestead 7-2 in the two other sectional games.

“It is a nice win for us,” Seibold said of beating the Archers. “Sectionals are something you really want to strive for. Jay County and Homestead played us really tough, so we are just glad to come out ahead and move on.”