The Vikings ran out of innings in their comeback effort, and couldn’t shake some early mistakes Wednesday.
“We definitely didn’t play up to our potential,” coach Steve Kolesnik said. “We’re a much better team than that. We threw the ball around a lot early in the game. I think they had five or six unearned runs out of their eight so we need to tighten that up.”
Those early mistakes cost the Vikings an 8-5 ballgame against Sparks on Wednesday. The game was never out of reach, but by the time the Vikings’ bats started finding holes, Sparks was already out to a comfortable 4-0 lead.
“We started the hitting rally late, and if we start that in the first inning we’ve got the game under control,” Kolesnik said.
Sam Durham busted up Sparks’ shutout in the second inning with a sac fly RBI. Isabella Castello, who went 3-for-3, laced an RBI single to keep the rally alive and make it 4-2.
Starting pitcher Hannah Neiger hit her groove in the third, and Sparks went three up and three down.
The Vikings then added one more in the third to cut Sparks lead to one. Brittany Sanchez legged out a single, Nora Anderson bunted her over and catcher Kaila Griffis hit a grounder to a deep second baseman to bring Sanchez in.
South Tahoe’s momentum fizzled in the fourth, however, as Sparks loaded the bases with no outs. It resulted in a four-run inning and an 8-3 Sparks’ lead.
The Vikings picked at the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Brittany Harper blasted a leadoff single, and Castello hit her home. But Sparks contained the surge.
South Tahoe mounted a final comeback effort in the seventh. Nora Anderson, Emily Gardner and Griffis all laced singles to bring in one run, but the comeback ended there.
After running into trouble in the early innings, Neiger held Sparks scoreless for the final two.
“Overall, I think Hannah’s progressing nicely this year. She’s throwing a lot harder than she was last year and she’s throwing a lot of strikes. We just need to work on that first-pitch control so she doesn’t have to throw as many pitches,” Kolesnik said. “Maybe we need to warm her up a little more before a game because she usually settles down in the second or third inning.”
Neiger leads the Vikings’ starting rotation followed by Gardner, Durham and Danika Davis.
Griffis is behind the plate, Gardner is at first, Bailey David at second, Sanchez at short and Harper at third. Anderson is stepping in at second while David is out with a hurt ankle.
Castillo, Durham, Cassara Naccarato and Bailey Barcellos are the key outfielders for the Vikings.
Kailey Kileen, Shelly Leonard and Ayden Williamson round out the varsity roster.
The Vikings struggled through their final innings this past weekend and it cost them two games in a crossover tournament.
The girls lost to Lowry 15-1 on Friday, and lost the first game of a Saturday doubleheader to Elko 15-1. Both games were lost in the final inning as it was a two-run ballgame until the end.
“We didn’t really produce last weekend until the last game of a three-game series, but the bats are starting to come around,” Kolesnik said.
South Tahoe ended on a winning note with a 12-0 Spring Creek shutout Saturday afternoon.
Durham pitched the game and almost threw a no-hitter. The senior took a no-no into the last inning, and ended up surrendering just one hit.
“She pitched awesome. She had confidence, and she was hitting her spot,” Kolesnik said. “A couple of times she had a four-pitch inning. It all comes back to confidence. I asked her why she was so confident and she said ‘because my defense was making plays behind me’.”
The good defense and well-placed hits were difference makers.
“Truth be told, we didn’t really hit the ball that hard, but we found spots,” Kolesnik said.
UP NEXT: The Vikings will host a doubleheader against Incline at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday at South Tahoe High School.