HILLMAN-Getting ahead early. Check.
Playing solid defense. Check.
Holding the opposition at bay with solid pitching. Check.
News Photo by James Andersen
Posen’s Danielle Rhode, left, catches a throw from pitcher Ashley Meyers to finalize an out for Hillman’s Eden Hunt (4) during a softball game on Thursday at Hillman High School.
Added up, all of those equaled a North Star League championship for the Posen softball team on Thursday as the Vikings topped Hillman 5-1 and 7-0.
In a battle of the only two undefeated teams in the league, it was Posen who came out on top, winning its first undisputed league title since 2008. The two squads have split the last five league titles.
"It feels really good to be league champions. We finally didn't share it with anybody," Posen shortstop Anna Couture said. "We have for the past five years, so it's nice to just sweep them and get it by ourselves."
Posen (19-4, 14-0 NSL) outhit the Tigers (13-5, 12-2 NSL) 13-6 on the day and did the majority of its scoring early, tallying seven of its 12 runs in the first two innings.
The Vikings took a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the nightcap after Ashley Meyers tripled to score Couture and Abbie Delekta followed with a sac fly.
After Deletka scored a run in the fourth inning, Posen solidified its lead with a five-run fifth inning. The Vikings scored all their runs with two outs and Deletka and Jenna Hincka each had RBI doubles to the gap in center field. Hincka's hit drove in two runs.
"They just came out with energy. They're a good team, 1-9 they were swinging the bats good," Hillman coach Curt Tebo said. "It was a good eye-opener for us and that's what we have to do, we've got to start hitting the ball."
For Hillman, the frustration seemed to mount with each inning and the Tigers went hitless until the fourth inning. Posen's defense didn't do much to help matters and turned a couple of impressive plays to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard.
Jensen Tchorzynski led off the fourth inning with a double and got as far as third base before Posen turned a double play. Taylor Crawford grounded to Meyers who tossed the ball to Danielle Rhode at first base for one out. When Tchorzynski tagged up and tried to score from third, Rhode fired the ball home to catcher Amy Buczkowski, who tagged her for the second out. One batter later, Taylor Chojnacki reached out to make a solid catch in center field to end Hillman's turn at the plate.
Hillman got a base runner in each of the next two innings, but couldn't bring them home.
Meyers allowed just three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts to earn the win for Posen. Tchorzynski allowed seven runs on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
The Vikings jumped all over Hillman early in the opener, ultimately scoring three runs as the first four batters had hits. After Couture and Buczkowski singled, Meyers had an RBI double and Delekta followed with a two-run double to center field.
"It was a nice start for us, going up 3-0 in the first inning of Game 1 and setting the tone early, but Jensen, to her credit, she's a great pitcher, she settled down and held us at bay," Posen coach Glenn Budnick said.
Posen added two more runs in the second inning after Meyers had an another RBI double and Bev Bednarski scored on a wild pitch.
Meyers had three hits and three RBIs for Posen on the day and also scored three runs. Delekta had three hits, four RBIs and scored twice. Buczkowski had three hits, an RBI and scored twice and Couture had two hits and scored two runs.
Once Tchorzynski found her groove, she was nearly unhittable, allowing just one hit the rest of the way. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Meyers was just as good, allowing just three hits and one run in that same span. Morgan Hardies reached on an error in the second inning, but Hillman didn't get any base runners again until the sixth inning when it stranded two.
Hillman finally got on the board on the sixth inning when Crawford tripled and was singled in by Alissa Jones. Any chance of a rally was shortlived when Kalen Tchorzynski lined to Meyers who fired the ball to Rhode to double off Jones and end the game.
Jones and Hardies each had two hits for Hillman.
After sharing the league title for so many years, the Vikings were more than happy to stake their claim as sole champion, especially against a rival like the Tigers.
"It feels good, we knew it was going to be a tough battle coming in here. We came out hitting the ball well against a very good pitcher and against a really good team. We were able to get the runs when we needed to, we had a great defense and solid pitching all day," Budnick said. When you add that up it spells a league championship."
Aside from a possible matchup this weekend, the two squads will meet again in Hillman in a predistrict game on May 28 and Tebo is hoping his team will come out on the winning end next time.
"It didn't pan out the way we hoped, but we've got to take the positives out of it and build on it," Tebo said. "We know where we have to be on the 28th. We know what we have to do to improve."
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.