Vikings in Late-season Form With Sweeping Pair From Foxes

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by Kelly Fenton, The Denmark News

DENMARK – Though the Denmark High School softball team has thus far battled only the lower-division teams in the North Eastern Conference, it has been impressive in running up a 4-0 mark, demonstrating none of the rust you might expect from a team kept indoors by weather for most of April.

On Friday, the Vikings were nearly flawless in dispatching Fox Valley Lutheran twice, 5-0 and 11-6, committing just one error over two games and getting lockdown pitching from ace Grace Nys. Though Denmark’s bats went quiet after the first inning of Game 1 – when it collected its only three hits of the contest – the Vikings hit on all cylinders in Game 2, putting together a 14-hit attack, three each by Alayna Derricks and Abby Marique.

Denmark lost a game in early April during a Florida trip, then fell to West De Pere (7-1) in its Wisconsin season-opener a week later. Following the Great Blizzard of mid-April, the Vikings have returned from a 12-day hiatus to win three straight to improve to 5-2 overall. They have outscored their foes 29-6 in those three games.

In the opener against Fox Valley Lutheran, the Vikings did all their damage in the first inning, then let Nys take care of the rest. Nys fanned 12, walked three and surrendered just three hits in the 5-0 victory. Denmark managed just three hits itself, but took advantage of walks, wild pitches and seven stolen bases to squeeze out enough off offense.

Derricks, who is proving a dynamic leadoff hitter drew a walk, stole second and scored on Taylor Ullman’s line single to center. Ullman came around on Breanna Collins’ first of three doubles on the afternoon. Pinch runner Kacee Kruczek scored on Abby Chada’s ground out. Nys gave up a pair of doubles and a single and that was it. She struck out the side in the first and recorded two strikeouts in each of the next four innings.

Denmark added two more runs in the fourth without the aid of a hit. Abigail Metz reached on an error. Lexie Habeck was safe on a force out, stole second and third and scored on a balk. Sophia Kinjerski also walked, stole second, moved to third on the balk and came in on a wild pitch.

Denmark jumped to a 2-0 lead in the nightcap, when they batted first as the official visiting team. Derricks reached on a bunt single, Ullman drew a walk and Collings ripped a two-run double to right-center. Unlike in the opener, the Vikings didn’t stop hitting after the first inning, collecting two or more hits over each of the next five.

Three hits produced a Fox Valley run in the bottom half.

In the second, Marique, a crafty bunter with speed, beat out a bunt, stole second and third and scored on Derricks two-out bunt single.

While Nys wasn’t as dominant in the nightcap, she was able to strand eight Foxes over her five innings of work, while her teammates played add-on. Collins opened the third with a double, Taylor Wochenske drew a one-out walk and both came around on Metz’s two-run single.

Denmark made it 7-1 with two more in the fourth. Ullman belted a leadoff double down the left-field line and scored when Collins was safe on an error. Chada’s ground out plated Collins.

Pinch hitter Bethany Schweiner drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and pinch runner Habeck moved to second on Marique’s bunt single past a drawn-in third baseman. Abigail O’Brien moved them both over with a sacrifice bunt and Derricks delivered a solid two-run single to center to make it 9-1. A Chada double, a Wochenske RBI single and Metz’s RBI double made it 11-1 in the sixth and Denmark had a chance to end it early in the bottom of the fifth.

Following a leadoff single off reliever Kailyn Petitjean and a grounder to the mound, Marique made a heads-up and athletic play at short. After bobbling a hard grounder, she scrambled to retrieve the ball and, while falling away, threw out the runner trying to advance to third while. But Fox Valley used a pair of singles to produce two runs and extend the game, then added three more runs in the seventh to set the final margin.

Nys allowed five hits and one run over five innings, striking out four, walking two and hitting a batter. Derricks had three hits and three RBI, while Collins added two hits, two runs and two RBI. Metz drove in three runs with two hits and Marique had three hits and scored twice. Wochenske also picked up a pair of hits and two runs.

Denmark stole seven more bases in Game 2 for a doubleheader total of 14.

On Tuesday, Taylor Ullman drove in five runs, and collected three hits, including a two-run home run, in a 14-0 pasting of Clintonville. Wochenske added two hits and two RBI. Nys and Petitjean combined for a one-hitter.

The Vikings played two at Oconto Falls on Monday and one at Wrightstown on Tuesday, all after newspaper deadlines. They travel to Marinette on Friday for an important battle with 5-0 Marinette.

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