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Panthers ace finds groove, fans 15 Vikings

– Senior Erin Rethlake sat uncomfortably in the press box and watched her Huntington North softball teammates against Class 2A No. 1 Lakewood Park on Monday.

There wasn’t anything the senior pitcher and reigning Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year could do as the 4A No. 14 Vikings fell 2-0 to senior pitcher Mikeila Boroff and the Panthers.

“I love the competition against Erin,” Boroff said. “I am disappointed that I didn’t have that tonight, but I really hope she is able to get better and able to come back to it.”

The expected pitching duel between Rethlake and Boroff didn’t happen because Rethlake is still out after suffering a concussion during a game more than a week ago.

“We were looking for that matchup,” Lakewood Park coach David Carnahan said. “Erin is a great pitcher, and they are a great team when she is on the mound.”

Boroff (13-0, 0.40 ERA) dominated Huntington North. She struck out 15 Vikings batters, including the last eight.

“At the end of the game, I found my groove, finally,” Boroff said. “I struggled a little bit at the beginning to find my pitches and what pattern I wanted to throw and what was working with the umpire.”

Boroff, who had two hits at the plate, gave up only two hits. She walked two and hit two batters as well.

“They are definitely two of the top pitchers,” Huntington North coach Paris Seibold said. “They have a really good pitcher (Boroff). She has a lot of ball movement.

“That makes their team, just like us. We are a good team without Erin, and we are a great team with her.”

Rethlake (5-1, 1.34 ERA) said she hopes to be cleared by her doctor Wednesday to return to the field. “I really don’t like this,” Rethlake said at one point about watching and not playing.

Lakewood Park (14-0) put across single runs in the third and fourth but didn’t get anything else, leaving eight runners on base, five in scoring position.

“It is something we specifically talked about and something that is uncharacteristic for us,” Carnahan said of the stranded runners. “It is something we have to mentally be ready to do and put that ball in play and do something to make the defense play and get some of those runners in. It was disappointing, but we fought through it.”

Sophomore Mikayla Gray started for the Vikings and threw the first four innings. Freshman Hannah Middlebrooks pitched the final three for the Vikings (13-5).