Vikings Face Tough Region Foes
By Jeff Whitener for Live Stream STL Media
Photo courtesy of CheapSeats Photo
When you’re a pitcher, sometimes all it takes is one tough inning to spoil an impressive performance. Such was the case for both teams last Thursday as the Jefferson College Vikings softball team split a pair of games with Three Rivers College.
After splitting a pair of games in Poplar Bluff on April 10th, The 27-4 Vikings hosted the 25-5 Raiders on a windy Thursday (16th) in Hillsboro. Both teams were looking to find a way to sweep the day in this clash of top-20 teams.
Both teams went quietly in the 1st inning of game 1. The Raiders opened the scoring in the top of the 2nd with a solo home run. In the bottom half of the inning, Jefferson got a base hit from Kiersten Nixon, but the Vikings couldn’t capitalize on it. Vikings starter Haile Farris twirled another 1-2-3 inning in the 3rd frame, setting the stage for a Viking offensive breakout. In the bottom of the inning, Jenna Roth reached base with a 1-out single. Her sister Sarah followed with a walk, putting 2 on for slugger Riley Eagan. She smacked a line drive off the pitcher’s leg, but it caromed right to the shortstop, who threw her out at 1st. The baserunners were able to advance to 2nd and 3rd on the play. With 2 out, “Double” Dani Lindsey came through with a 2-bagger, scoring both runners and giving the Vikes a 2-1 lead. It was then Tara Haag’s turn to get in on the action. She drove the 1st pitch she saw deep to right-centerfield for a 2-run homer, increasing the lead to 4-1. That one tough inning for Three Rivers was all that Jefferson would need as Haile Farris gave up single runs in the 6th and 7th innings, then closed the door on the Raiders. The final score was 4-3. The sophomore right-hander picked up her 13th win of the season. She went all 7 innings, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits while striking out 11 and walking just 2 batters. Lindsey and Haag were the Viking’s clutch performers at the plate. Both batters netted 2 RBI apiece. Kiersten Nixon was the only batter to go 3 for 3 in game one.
Kiersten Nixon claimed the circle in game 2 and was just as dominant as Farris, save for 1 inning. Jefferson’s bats fell silent in game 2 as they were shut out by the Raiders 3-0. Three Rivers scored 2 runs in the 2nd inning and tacked on an insurance tally in the 6th. In 7, complete innings, Nixon gave up 3 runs on only 2 hits but walked 3 while striking out 4 batters. It was another case of having one tough inning. Meanwhile, the Vikings could only muster 2 hits against the Raider’s pitcher in game 2. Sometimes you just tip your cap to your opponent after an outstanding play or team effort and Three Rivers pitcher Alyson Marcum deserved just that.
After the Easter holiday, Jefferson was back in action on Tuesday (19th), starting a string of challenging road games. The 1st stop was at St. Charles Community College to take on the Cougars. Haile Farris was in the circle for game 1 and got plenty of support from the Vikings offense as they took game one 11-4. Jefferson jumped out to the lead in the 1st inning. Sarah Roth led off the game with a base hit. With 1 out, Dani Lindsey reached on an error, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd. Kiersten Nixon then hit a 2-out double, scoring both runners and the Vikings led 2-0. The game moved to the top of the 3rd, and it was Sarah Roth getting things started once again. She led off the inning with a single. An error on a ball hit by Riley Eagan and a walk to Dani Lindsey loaded the bases for Kiersten Nixon. Nixon hit a sharp grounder that the 2nd baseman couldn’t handle, and all 3 runners scampered home, giving the Vikings a 5-0 lead. The Cougars made things interesting in the bottom half of the 3rd. Once again, it was a case of a pitcher having just 1 tough inning, and this time it was Farris. St. Charles plated 4 runs on 5 hits in the inning to pull within 1 run. The score would remain 5-4 until the top of the 5th. Riley Eagan drew a walk to start the inning. She was replaced by pinch-runner Haley Richardson, who promptly stole 2nd base. With 2 outs, Kiersten Nixon walked, putting 2 runners on base. Avery Throckmorton was called upon to pinch-hit and smashed a ball through the 2nd baseman, an error that scored to more Vikings. Throckmorton then stole 2nd but would later be thrown out at the plate for the 3rd out. The Vikes added another run in the 6th courtesy of 2 more Cougar errors. Meanwhile, Farris had reclaimed her form and was busy shutting down the Cougars. With the score 8-4, Jefferson would add some insurance in the top of the 7th. Nixon reached base with a 1-out single, followed by a walk to Throckmorten. Kennedy Kohler followed with a base hit to load the bases. Lindsey Brandt came to the plate and lifted a sacrifice fly which scored Nixon from 3rd. A double by Jenna Roth and another Cougar error gave the Vikings 3 more runs in the inning to make the score 11-4. Farris shut the door in the bottom of the 7th, giving the sophomore her 14th win of the season against 3 losses. Haile pitched a complete game, giving up 4 runs on 9 hits while striking out 12 batters. Nixon did most of the heavy lifting on offense, going 2 for 3 with 5 RBI and 2 runs scored.
Nixon toed the rubber in game 2 and pitched a beauty as the Vikings edged the Cougars 3-2. The University of Tennessee-Martin commit hurled 7 innings, giving up 1 earned run on 4 hits. The right-hander struck out 12 Cougars and walked none. Nixon won her 15th game of the season against only 2 losses. The Vikings would plate their first 2 runs in the 3rd inning. Sarah Roth led off with a double. Dani Lindsey followed with a 1-out single and stole 2nd base. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Kiersten Nixon hit a ball that was misplayed for an error, scoring Roth. Kennedy Kohler was up next, and she placed a perfect sacrifice, scoring Lindsey from 3rd, and making the score 2-0. St. Charles would get 1 run back in the bottom of the frame after a walk and some passed balls and wild pitches. The Vikings added another run in the 5th inning. After a 1-out base hit by Riley Eagan, Nixon would bring pinch runner Kayla Richardson home on a sacrifice fly. The Cougars would make things interesting in the bottom of the 7th with a solo home run but that was all they could muster, and the Vikes left St, Charles with 2 wins.
With the sweep, Jefferson’s record now stands at 30-5 and the Vikings are ranked 18th in the nation.
This Friday (22nd) the team begins an arduous road trip that will see them play 8 games in 5 days. They begin the road trip with two games at North Central, followed by 2 at Metropolitan, 2 at State Fair, and 2 at Crowder. After their tour of the western part of Missouri, Jefferson returns home to play their final, regular-season games against East Central on Thursday the 28th. It will be Sophomore day so come out and support your Vikings!