The softball season is off to a fast start. However, the Cleveland State University Vikings have struggled. The Vikings lost 13 straight games before starting conference play. They had a record of 4-14 against non-conference opponents, leaving a lot to be desired in the season.
While the season didn’t start off so well, once the Vikings hit conference play, things turned around for the better and the team is off to a great start as they sit with a 5-1 conference record. Through the first six conference games, the Vikings have scored 33 runs on 43 hits and a solid team batting average of .256. On the pitching side of things, the team has an earned run average of 3.58 and an opposing batting average of .214.
Conference play kicked off on the Mar. 13, a game at IUPUI. This game was a nail-biter, going into the 9th inning. The game was tied at one until freshman Sophie Spellman hit a two-run homer in the top of the 9th inning. This would be the game-winner as the Vikings would shut the door and leave with a 3-1 win. Freshman Melissa Holzopfel was the winning pitcher going all 9 innings, giving up 4 hits, 1 run, striking out 13, and getting the win.
The second of this three-game series also was a Vikings victory, although it looked very different. The Vikings held a 6-3 lead after the first inning. IUPUI scored 6 runs in the second inning, giving them a 9-6 lead after two innings. The Vikings scored 6 unanswered runs and also got extra help, as IUPUI had six errors. Only four of the Vikings’ runs were earned against IUPUI pitchers, team fielding was the ultimate downfall and the Vikings capitalized pulling away winning 12-9. Not counting the IUPUI errors, the Vikings were led by sophomore Jenna Deang who tallied three hits and a walk on the day.
The Vikings completed the sweep of IUPUI as part of a doubleheader. This game again was the complete opposite of the first game. Once again a pitcher’s duel, after seven innings deadlocked at 0-0. In the 8th inning, senior Aly Packish hit a sacrifice fly scoring the game’s only run. Vikings pitcher Holzopfel tossed a complete-game shutout, striking out 11 batters in the win.
After the sweep of IUPUI, the Vikings hosted Purdue Fort Wayne and game one also went into extra innings. The Vikings scored 3 runs in the 4th inning and the Mastodons put up 3 runs in the 6th inning. That was all the scoring until the bottom of the 9th inning with a runner on 2nd Jenna Deang doubled scoring the winning run giving the team a 4-3 victory.
The team was riding high, winning four games straight, but the second game of this doubleheader wasn’t the result the team was looking for. The Vikings went into the 7th inning down 5-3 and Purdue Fort Wayne added six runs in the 7th and would coast to an 11-3 win. The Vikings weren’t very pleased with that result and the next game showed that as they would beat the Mastodons via the run rule in five innings, 10-2
The Vikings will continue conference play against Robert Morris during the start of April after a streak of six canceled games against Northern Kentucky leaving their current record at 9-15.