EAST LAKE — Northeast took a big step in securing second place in the Class 7A District 9 standings with Thursday night's 5-1 win at East Lake.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first, Vikings pitcher Riley Randolph took over and shut down the East Lake bats over the next six innings.
“I was just trying to restart from the second inning and push through it, stay within myself and believe in my teammates,” Randolph said after the four-hit, five-strikeout performance.
Teammates helped the junior lefty's effort by turning in near-flawless night defensively and banging out 10 hits from the batter's box.
Northeast (13-5, 5-3) took control of Thursday's game with a four-hit, four-run fourth inning, emphatically capped by catcher Kayla Stellwag's 3-run homer to left.
“I haven't been hitting a lot lately and I finally pulled through,” the senior backstop said. “I think it definitely was a team-booster and helped us get back into the game.”
Stellwag (2-for-3) was one of three Vikings to record a multi-hit night. Relynn Capra went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored and Ashley McNally went 2-for-3 while crossing the plate once.
The Eagles offense looked solid early, turning a leadoff infield single by Aliyah Andrews into a run when shortstop Ashley Bonalewicz drove her home with a base hit up the middle. There wasn't much to work with after that, though, as Randolph no-hit East Lake from the second through the sixth.
“That was the game plan [in the first]; exactly what we wanted to do,” Eagles coach Kristie Delk said. “Then we waited until the last inning to start doing anything and it was too late.”
Maddie Bertisch (2-for-3) and Emily Stafford led off the bottom of the seventh by consecutively reaching base, but Randolph sat down the next three Eagles in order to end the game.
For East Lake (10-7, 6-3), the loss likely drops them to the No. 3 seed come the District 7A-9 tournament in two weeks. The Eagles remain a half-game up on Northeast in the standings, but the Vikings finish out league play with a double-header next Tuesday against last-place Clearwater (2-15, 0-8). East Lake wraps up its district schedule at 4 p.m. tomorrow afternoon against Seminole (12-9, 5-4), but doesn't own the tiebreaker over Northeast after being swept in the two-game season series. To get back into second behind first-place Countryside, the Eagles need to beat Seminole and hope for Clearwater to pull off an upset in one of Tuesday's doubleheader games at Northeast.
“I just told them, 'let's have fun,' ” Delk said about the Eagles getting back on track. “It almost looks like we're just going through the motions. They just have to go out there and have fun. It's softball. If we have fun and play our game, good things will happen.”
NE - 000 410 0 --- 5-10-1
EL - 100 000 0 --- 1-4-0
WP – Riley Randolph (13-4)
LP – Diana Rayder
Northeast (13-5, 5-3)
Riley Randolph – W, 7.0 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 K, 1 BB
Kayla Stellwag – 2-for-3, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR
Relynn Capra – 3-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 R
East Lake (10-7, 6-3)
Maddie Bertisch – 2-for-3
Ashley Bonalewicz – 1-for-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Aliyah Andrews – 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 SB