High School Softball
Northgate shuts out defending champ
by Doug Gorman
The Northgate Lady Vikings scored two runs in the first inning and then held off a late-rally Thursday evening to beat defending Class AAAAA champion and Region 4-AAAAA rival Union Grove 2-0.
With the win, Northgate moved its overall record to 5-2 and its region mark to 1-0. The Lady Vikings used some solid defense behind the pitching of McKenzie Peace.
Peace allowed just four hits and struck out eight en route to the region-opening victory.
Peace also showed she could pitch around the Lady Wolverines' seventh-inning rally, striking out the side to preserve the win. After Peace struck out the first batter in the contest, Union Grove's Lindsey Gillam and Aly Bala connected on back-to-back singles. That's when Peace reached down deep, getting the next two batters to strike out swinging.
'McKenzie is very good in the later innings,' Northgate head coach Lisa Skelton said. 'She doesn't alway need to be a strikeout pitcher because she has a great defense behind her. She has to be careful not to overdue, but she did a great job out there.'
The Lady Vikings held on to their two-run lead thanks to some timely plays in the infield.
'We did a really good job of handling their bunts tonight,' Skelton said. 'They were not able to get on that way. The defense tonight was great, there were no hiccups.'
Northgate took the lead in the first inning when Brenna Skalski reached on a bunt single.
Thanks to some heads up baserunning, Skalski stole second and went to third on a ground ball.
Jenna Pealor then drove in Skalski with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead.
After loading the bases in the inning, Northgate pushed the final run of the game across when Casey Kent followed with an RBI hit to score Pealor.
Northgate ended the contest without an error, playing solid defense and holding Union Grove to six baserunners.
While Union Grove entered this season without star pitcher Megan Betsa, who graduated, it was still a key early Region 4-AAAAA victory that will help Northgate down the road.
'It's good to get the first region win, but you are going to have to do it again,' Skelton said. 'It's always about mindset,' she said. 'When we see them again, we can depend on what happened this time.'
Northgate continues in region play on Tuesday at home against Mundy's Mill before traveling to Ola on Thursday.