By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity softball team started the 2021 season off on the right foot, picking up two wins, 6-5 and 4-1, in a doubleheader against Richland Gull Lake.
In the first game, the Bulldogs got out to an early 4-0 lead that later shrank to 4-4 in the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, the Blue Devils took a 5-4 lead, putting the pressure on the younger team to deliver. With two on and no one out, Danielle Diekman hit a ball to center to bring Maddison Diekman home. Danielle then found herself trapped between bases. However, in the commotion of trying to get Diekman out, Gull Lake momentarily took their eyes off Peyton Smith, allowing her to run home for the winning run from third.
“It was really Danielle who got that key hit there at the end and then got herself in a pickle to allow us to score a girl from third,” Head Coach Paul Gephart said.
In the second game, Payton Lewis got the Bulldogs on the board first by taking advantage of a Gull Lake mistake after a hit from Hannah Vallier. Vicksburg scored again in the bottom of the fourth, when Smith hit a big triple to bring Maddison Diekman home. Smith scored shortly after on a high pitch by the Blue Devils. In the fifth, Maya Peters hit a double to bring Vallier home again and make the score 4-0. Gull Lake hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth to make the score 4-1, the final score of the game.
“We’re young. there’s a lot of things that we saw that we need to work on, but I’m very happy when you start the season off, and you win two games,” Gephart said. “Especially that first game when they tied the score up and had all the momentum we came back and finished there at the end.”
Coming back in 2021 is a little bittersweet for both players and coaches. The Covid-19 pandemic cancelled all spring sports completely last year which means that a lot of seniors did not get to play their final season in 2020, leaving many to wonder what might have been.
It has also led to some challenges because many of the newer players have never played softball at the varsity level before the Gull Lake game. Gephart noted that losing a whole season is a challenge every team is going to have to deal with this year.
“There’s no excuses, I just feel bad for the girls from last year, all those that were returning,” Gephart said. “You’ve got eight starters returning and they lost their entire season, six of them graduated. So, I’m really happy that we’re even getting to play.”
Based on what he saw from the first two games though, prospects look promising. He said the younger players stepped up and the veterans led by example.
“I was really pleased with how well they played with the number of new people that we have playing this year,” Gephart said. “They did a really good job with very minimal amounts of time to practice.”
By Travis Smola