FORT WAYNE — An uncharacteristically sloppy game by the Carroll defense and a characteristically strong game from Huntington North pitcher Erin Rethlake was all it took for the visiting Vikings in a 4-0 win in a Class 4A regional Tuesday.
Carroll committed three errors and also fell into a 3-0 hole after two innings.
“We are a strong defensive team, and we let down defensively. The errors really cost us in this game,” Carroll coach Donnetta Betley said. “They are too good of an opponent to let down defensively and give them the upper hand on it. It happened to be an off night on the wrong night.”
Rethlake threw a one-hitter and struck out 11.
“For some reason, things just felt like they were working,” Rethlake said.
The No. 13 Vikings (23-5) will play top-ranked Crown Point (29-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Harrison (West Lafayette) Semistate.
Rethlake got some defensive help as well, including right fielder Maddi Kennedy throwing out Carroll’s Kimberline Morris at first base on a would-be single. Carroll had already collected what would be its only hit, a single by Ali Richard.
“That was a huge play because they were having a rally right then,” Siebold said of Kennedy’s throw. “I knew if she got the ball clean, she has a good arm and that was a big turning point. That takes them right out of the game.”
The Vikings did commit an error but got some solid defense by shortstop Nathasha Grover.
“That just makes me feel so much more comfortable,” Rethlake said of the defense. “I know I can make a mistake, and they will be right there to bail me out. I can just throw instead of stressing out about having to strike people out. And it is a lot easier to throw with a 4-0 lead.”
Huntington North scored a run in the first on two wild pitches and two hits and added two more in the second on an error, fielder’s choice, sacrifice bunt and an RBI single from Aubrey Eckert. The fourth run came in the fourth on a single, another sacrifice bunt and another Carroll error.
“That put a lot of pressure on Carroll,” Seibold said of the early runs. “I was really happy to come out of the game early and get some base runners on and make the team more comfortable. Against good teams, you have to put the ball into play and get runners around, and we did that.”
No. 7 Carroll (26-4) has lost to Huntington North the last three years in the regional. The Chargers beat the Vikings 8-1 in the season opener, but Rethlake pitched only a little in that first game.
“Those are the types of games we want to be in,” Rethlake said. “It’s not like we are coming in here and playing nobody. We are playing a good team and coming out on top, so that’s a good thing for us.”