MAUMEE — All year long DJ Schuster’s Evergreen Vikings have beaten the odds as underdogs.
After being picked in the middle of the pack of the league race, the Vikes found a way on the last day of the season to win a title with a come-from-behind extra inning win over Swanton.
They became sectional champions by beating higher-seeded Liberty Center in a 13-inning marathon on Jocelyn Schuster’s two-strike, two-out, two-run double last Friday.
However, against Otsego in a softball district semifinal played at Rolf Park Monday, the Vikes ran out of answers against Lexi North as the Knights hurler threw a two-hit shutout and provided the only offense Otsego needed with a three-run homer in a 4-0 win that knocked the Vikings out of the tournament.
Evergreen’s Breanna Huffman matched North pitch for pitch the first four innings, as the Viking senior didn’t allow a hit and struck out eight during that span.
North escaped a first inning jam when after walking Macy Chamberlin and giving up Huffman’s sharp single to left, she struck out the next two hitters to avoid damage.
From that point, North retired the following 14 hitters, striking out 10 Vikings in the process.
“We jumped on her in the first inning, and then she made adjustments and got out of it,” explained the elder Schuster. “She did a great job adjusting and carried it through the rest of the game.”
The Knights finally put together a pair of hits, their first of the game in the bottom of the fifth.
Amelia Simpson and Khloey Hutton bunted for hits leading off the inning.
Huffman whiffed the Knights leadoff hitter Eve Serrato, then got a pop up for the second out.
An 0-2 pitch to North looked as if it bit the outside part of the plate — in the opinion of many in press row — but Huffman didn’t get the call that would’ve gotten the Vikings out of the inning.
With a second life, North made good with a towering fly ball that cleared the left field fence, giving the Knights a 3-0 lead.
“(North) to her credit took a really close possible strike three pitch,” said coach Schuster. “Then she hit the homer on the next pitch.”
Evelyn Rider added an insurance run the next inning with a leadoff homer that just cleared Schuster’s glove in center and the wall for a 4-0 advantage.
Evergreen’s only other threat came in the sixth when Chamberlin tripled to deep right with two down, but North retired Huffman to keep the Vikings scoreless.
Huffman allowed five hits while striking out 10 Knights.
North totaled 14 strikeouts.
“Obviously our season didn’t end the way we planned, but our girls played hard and battled all year,” expressed Schuster. “We are extremely proud of what these girls accomplished. Our seniors set the bar high for our program this year, I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
Evergreen bows out with a final record of 15-9.