Vikings fire up in home opener
When Galena High’s softball team wasn’t making timely hits or routine plays in the field Tuesday, the Grizzlies were chanting.
“Ducks on the pond, don’t leave them on. Get a hit, quack, quack,” the Grizzlies crooned whenever runners were in scoring position.
But the chattery Northern Nevada 4A League contenders didn’t have a line to stop the South Tahoe Vikings from extending them to seven innings at the Field of Dreams at STHS. The impassioned Vikings plated a run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, delaying the Grizzlies’ dinner plans at the local Taco Bell.
“As long as we keep our heads in the game, and are not somewhere else, we can compete,” said manager Rich Barna, whose Vikings were making their home debut in the 15-5 defeat. “A lot of times when we play these high-powered teams, if we go in thinking we’ve lost, we’ve already lost. One of the things is that the girls don’t want to be embarrassed at home. It just raises that intensity.”
It took two innings and a 9-0 Galena lead before the Vikings discovered the heart to fight back. The Grizzlies chased Vikings starter Heather Roderick with four runs in the first inning and five more in the second. Abby Parker and Keri Schlosser did the first-inning damage with run-scoring singles, while Tiffany Kristie became the first player to deposit a ball over the new $5,000 outfield fence. Kristie’s three-run homer to dead center put the Grizzlies ahead 9-0.
But the Vikings didn’t fold after seeing the Grizzlies’ sharp teeth. Senior left fielder Jessica Cerasoli followed a walk to Stefanie Terry by crushing a double to left field.
“I didn’t even look at it, I just ran,” Cerasoli said.
Jill Barna capitalized with a two-run single that trimmed Galena’s lead to 9-2 after two innings.
“Our hitting came around, and when our hitting comes around it pumps everyone up,” said Vikings senior shortstop Missy Johnson, who collected two of the Vikings’ nine hits.
Coach Barna has noticed in his first season it only takes one key play to motivate his team.
“Once we make something happen, then our intensity level starts to rise,” Rich Barna said. “We’ve tried that chanting stuff, and it doesn’t work.”
The Vikings added single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings. Roderick’s single plated Kendra Terry, who had doubled, in the third; Johnson tripled in Terry in the fifth; and a Tabitha Porter single and an overthrow enabled Tammy Cowen to score in the sixth. The latter run made the score 14-5 and enabled the Vikings to force a seventh inning, only 11 days after being trounced by the Grizzlies 20-0 in five innings in Reno.
“It’s great that we just didn’t give up,” said Cerasoli, who was celebrating her 18th birthday Tuesday. “We hung in there and knew that we could do it.”
Relief pitcher Vanessa Porter helped the Vikings stay even with the Grizzlies after falling behind 9-0. In her five-inning stint, she allowed seven hits and three walks and retired the side in order in the third frame.
“Vanessa was just pitching great today, and that helps a lot with our defense,” Johnson said.
It certainly helped Cerasoli, who made two spectacular catches in left field. The better of the two came on a shot by Monica Dietz that Cerasoli caught in the tip of her glove while backpedaling and flipping over.
“I just jumped and had it, and then squeezed it as tight as I could. It was fun,” said Cerasoli, who equaled Johnson with two hits.
Third baseman Corrine Edwards also made a quick-thinking defensive gem in the seventh inning. After dropping an infield popup, Edwards quickly picked up the ball and fired it to Johnson for a force out at second base
South Tahoe (2-11) plays host to Carson on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at the Field of Dreams.
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