Vike Softball Sweeps Hoke in Doubleheader
The Viking girls' softball team had quite a seven-day run as they are now on a four game wining streak. Union Pines' 2007 team did not win that many games in its entire season.
After defeating conference rival Overhills last Friday, the Vikes took it to their cross county-rivals, the Pinecrest Patriots, 7-2 in Southern Pines Monday. Union Pines then capped off the stretch, Thursday night in Cameron, by taking both games in a twilight-doubleheader with the 4-A Hoke County Bucks. The Vikings won the first game 11-7 and the second 11-10.
"This last week has been awesome, because last year was a mess." said Vike first baseman Lauren Rakes. "We have come together so well this year and I am really impressed with the team."
Union Pines' ace pitcher Michaela Roop echoed Rakes's sentiments. "This feels really good, the improvements we have made from last year to this year have been drastic," she said. "We play much better together as team and our team chemistry keeps building."
After the games, Vike head coach Randy Calcutt felt fortunate with the evening's outcome. "I thought our girls played really well overall," he said, "they battled hard, we were able to score most innings and did a good job keeping the pressure on Hoke. I think we are building we are steadily heading in the right direction I sense we have finally righted the ship and are on our way towards getting this program back where we would like for it to be."
The Vikes jumped out to early leads in both games Thursday, only to see Hoke mount late game rallies.
In the nightcap, in which Union Pines was the "visiting team," Hoke was down 11-10 with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Buck centerfielder Griffin then sent a liner down the first-base line, which bounced inches from the chalk. On the next pitch, Vike relief pitcher Brittany Belton got her to pop out to Rakes to pickup the save, as Union Pines hung on for the win the and complete a two-game sweep of the Bucks.
Roop started both games on the mound and put in twelve and two-third innings of work on the night. She would end up getting wins in both games. In the opener, she pitched a complete game, allowing seven runs, (five earned), while walking one. Through the first six-innings she allowed just two runs on five hits.
In the bottom of the first, Union Pines scored two runs on three hits to take an early 2-0 advantage. With one away in the inning, Rakes and Brianne Hendrick hit consecutive singles. Chelsey Hardy would drive in Rakes with a single to right and then Hendrick crossed the plate on a sacrifice grounder by Belton.
Union Pines built its lead to 5-1 after fourth innings of play. Vike shortstop Amber Nunnaley had a two-out one-run single that plated Belton in the third. The Vikings put a 2-spot on the board in their half of the fourth, when Hardy delivered a two-run two-out double. In the first game, she got the job done at the plate going 3-4, with four RBI, three runs and a double.
"I guess my stroke was just going today," Hardy said with a chuckle on her performance at the plate, "I don't know -- I was just really focused during my at bats. More importantly, I am happy because we are a true team this year, no one is selfish and when someone makes a mistake everybody picks them up."
The Vikes went into the bottom of the sixth up 5-2. After the inning was over Union Pines would have an 11-2 advantage. The Vikes scored six runs in the inning on two hits and four walks. Hardy, Devinne Beard and Laquiston "Q" Hines all drove in a run a piece in the frame.
Going into the bottom of the seventh, it appeared the Vikes would cruise to a win, but the Bucks had other plans. After Roop surrendered a single to the Bucks' eighth batter, an error allowed Chavis, the ninth batter, to reach base. The top of Hokes' order then rattled off four straight singles to cut the Vike lead to 11-7. Roop then bore down and retired the side on a grounder and pop up to preserve the win for Union Pines.
The night's second contest went scoreless through the first three innings. Then, in the top of the fourth, Union Pines broke through to score three runs on four hits. Rakes hit a bullet down the third baseline to drive in two runs and then scored on a Hendrick single. The Bucks would get one run off of Roop in their half of the fourth to make the score 3-1
Union Pines picked up in the fifth inning where they left off in the fourth. The Vikes plated four runs on three hits to take a sizeable 7-1 lead, but Hoke answered in the bottom of the frame by posting three runs on a hit, two Viking errors and a walk. As the game moved into the sixth inning, Union Pines led 7-4.
However, the Vike bats remained hot as they tallied five hits. Belton got things started with a double and soon scored on a wild pitch. With one out, Union Pines loaded the bases for Hines who drove in a run with a single. Rakes followed with a sacrifice grounder giving Union Pines a 10-4 lead.
Roop finally began to grow weary in the bottom of the sixth. After collecting the first two outs by forcing fly balls, she hit the Buck's leadoff batter putting runners on first and second. Griffin and first baseman White then connected on consecutive one-run singles to trim the Vike lead to 10-6. Buck catcher Jones then roped a triple to left-center to drive them in and cut the lead to two runs. Calcutt then chose to bring Belton in to spell Roop, who had given all she had in her tank. On her first pitch the ball got past catcher Gracen Bennett and Jones broke for home, but Bennet was quick to retrieve it and Belton was there to cover the plate as the Vikes got out of the inning on a 2-1 tag-out.
Union Pines added an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Hardy led off the inning with a double, which was her second straight two-bagger and her third hit in the contest. On the night, the junior slugger had six hits, scored four runs and had four RBI. She took third on a wild pitch and then scored on another wild pitch. Her run would prove to be the game winner, as the Bucks rallied to score two-runs before loading the bases in the last of the seventh only to leave all three runners stranded.
In the bottom of the seventh, with runners on first and second and Union Pines up 11-10, Hendrick made a crucial catch on a sizzling drive to left that was sinking fast and tailing away from her. The snag recorded the second out for the Vikes. "Making that play felt great," said the Vikes' senior captain, "because I knew if it got past the was probably over -- we needed that catch and thank-goodness I was able to get it."
Calcutt was thrilled to come away with two wins against the Bucks. "Hoke is a good hitting team, they hit the ball really hard." With the two wins, The Vikings are now 5-2 on the year. Hoke left Union Pines with a 4-6 record.
Hendrick is excited with the start the Vikes have gotten of to in their season. "Our defense has definitely, improved and we stay optimistic during games," she said. "Last year if we fell behind, we would get down on ourselves and sort of stop trying. This year we have really picked ourselves up and tried harder to make plays because we have faith in each other as a team."
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