INDIANAPOLIS — First the no-hitter was gone, then the lead and finally the game scampered away from Huntington North
When the dust settled at the Ben Davis softball complex, the Vikings had seen the Class 4A state championship escape their grasp in a 3-1 loss Saturday to Plainfield.
The Vikings (23-8) led 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning before the Quakers (23-9) scored three times.
“It just wasn’t there, and we kind of fell apart,” Huntington North coach Paris Seibold said. “That’s a tough loss for us, but the girls played well, and we were so close. I thought we had it.”
Huntington North had two 1-0 wins in the postseason, including the semistate finals against Northridge when sophomore Erin Rethlake’s solo home run was the difference and in the sectional finals against Homestead.
“We were up 1-0, and we were starting to hit (Plainfield pitcher Courtney Collins) a little bit, but we couldn’t put hits together after the one big hit we had,” Seibold said.
Rethlake (7-2) was the tough-luck losing pitcher for Huntington North, giving up one hit.
She had a no-hitter through five innings, before surrendering a single by Maggie Stahl in the sixth.
“You come out here and dream about throwing the best game, but it doesn’t always work out,” a teary-eyed Rethlake said. “It didn’t go our way. There were some things we could have changed, and it might have made a difference and maybe it would have.”
Rethlake came back to lead the team through the postseason after missing 19 games after having meniscus surgery.
She gave up only two earned runs against the Quakers and struck out seven, while walking three.
Rethlake set down 14 of 16 batters, including eight straight at one point, before the fateful sixth.
Plainfield scored its three runs on two walks, a hit, an error, a wild pitch and a steal of home.
Rethlake settled down and struck out the final two batters of the inning, but the damage had been done.
“It is hard, but it is harder for the seniors,” Rethlake said. “Someone has to lose, I get it. But we wanted this for the seniors more than anything. The fact we got this far, worked so hard and didn’t finish it, it sucks.”
Rethlake, who threw 93pitches, also led the Vikings offense with two hits, including a double.
In the top of the fourth, Alyssa Hiple followed Rethlake’s double to knock in courtesy runner Erica Friese (who was running for Rethlake) for a 1-0 Vikings’ lead.
Collins (15-4) gave up five hits and struck out nine.
Huntington North senior Laura Daronatsty was named the 4A mental attitude award winner.
The Vikes have the makings of another state run in the future with Rethlake and Hiple being only sophomores.
The starting lineup consisted of only three seniors.
“There will be another day when hopefully we will back sometime,” Seibold said. “The core of our team is pretty young. Our sophomore class is real strong. We have a lot of young girls, and we will be back.”