ARMA — Aside from three bad innings against Jayhawk-Linn on Thursday, the young Northeast Vikings played tight with the Jayhawks and the Liberal Bulldogs in a Three Rivers League doubleheader and the completion of the Northeast Invitational championship game suspended eight days ago due to rain.
Northeast was swept by Jayhawk-Linn, 5-1 and 13-3, and pushed Liberal to the brink 7-5 after trailing 7-1 entering the sixth inning. The losses dropped the Vikings to 1-5 on the season.
"I think anybody who sees us . . . the Jayhawk-Linn coach afterwards, he said 'That's the best Arma team I've seen in 8 years'," Northeast head coach Scott Post said. "Well, we don't want to say best with a 1-5 record but we feel like we have that potential to be a pretty darn good ball team. We've got a lot of young, talented players."
In the first game, Northeast's Kelsea Choate and Jayhawk-Linn's Lauren Sluder were solid but the Jayhawks pulled away with four runs in the third.
Brianna Francis drove in the first run of the game, Leslie Nation drew a bases-loaded walk and Kayleena Boyd hit a two-run single.
The Jayhawks went up 5-0 on a Francis RBI double, plating Sluder after her two-out double.
The Vikings scored their lone run in the sixth. With two outs, Kamryn Osborn roped a double down the right field line and Morgan Maransani drew a walk. Next batter up, Choate singled in Osborn but Maransani was thrown out at third.
Sluder struck out nine Vikings in the opener.
Jayhawk-Linn scored 12 of their 13 runs in the second game in two innings, eight in the first and four in the third.
The Jayhawks totaled 18 hits with three doubles, one triple and one inside-the-park home run. At the Arma softball field, if the ball goes over the outfielder, extra-base hits are guaranteed.
Carly Jackson hit the inside-the-park homer, Chloe Wallace a RBI triple, April Krull a RBI single and Francis a two-run double in the eight-run first.
In the third, Sluder, Francis and Jackson laced back-to-back RBI singles and Jackson scored the final Jayhawk run on a wild pitch.
Northeast freshman Autumn Walker proved to be a bright spot for the Vikings — she came across for their first run after she connected on a triple and she made her way home in the fourth, connecting on her second triple and coming home on an overthrow of third base, sliding in safely both at third and at home.
In the make-up game against Liberal, Northeast scored one in the sixth — highlighted by an Osborn double — and three in the seventh, as Jaycie Polhlopek and Walker connected on back-to-back RBI hits.
Liberal held a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth when the game resumed.
Thursday night might begin something better for the Vikings moving forward over a 20-game regular season.
"We've got some good hitters," Post said. "We had gone on a streak. When we began this game with them, we scored in the first inning. So, we went three innings and we got shut out two games against Riverton in a seven and a five. That's 12 and plus three, that's 15 and then we didn't score . . . I think we went 21 innings and didn't score.
"I would have never dreamed that with this group because we've got some sticks. We faced some pretty good pitchers and it seems like everybody we've faced has a good pitcher on the mound and we're just not there yet. When they started falling in this last game, it's exciting because I know once the hits start coming, we've got a pretty good ball team."
Northeast returns to TRL play Monday with games against Uniontown and Altoona-Midway in Uniontown.
JAYHAWKS 5, VIKINGS 1
JL 004 100 0 — 5 9 0
NE 000 001 0 — 1 6 3
Lauren Sluder and Carly Jackson. Kelsea Choate and Haley Robinson. WP: Sluder. LP: Choate. 2B: Sluder, Brianna Francis; Kamryn Osborn. SB: Jackson, April Krull, Francis. LOB: JL 8, NE 6.
JAYHAWKS 13, VIKINGS 3
JL 814 00 — 13 18 1
NE 020 10 — 3 4 0
Lauren Sluder and Carly Jackson. Kelsea Choate and Haley Robinson. WP: Sluder. LP: Choate. HR: Jackson. 3B: Chloe Wallace; Autumn Walker 2. 2B: Brianna Francis, April Krull, Wallace. SB: Francis, Sluder.