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Winds of change: Vikings still looking to grow after loss to Panthers

HAYFIELD — Things look a whole lot different on the softball diamond this spring for Hayfield senior pitcher Caitlyn Hendrickson, but she’s confident things can soon take a change for the better. 

The Vikings, who have a lot of first-year varsity players in the lineup, lost to New Richland-HEG 8-0 in Hayfield’s home opener Thursday.

Hendrickson allowed just two earned runs through the first six innings, but the Panthers put the game out of reach with four runs in the top of the seventh.

“We’re definitely a young group and we don’t have a lot of experience,” Hendrickson said. “Last year would’ve been a big year to grow and get experience and we didn’t get that. We have a lot of talent, but we have a lot of young kids. Once we get into the swing of things, I think we’re going to be really successful.”

After scoring in the first inning on a pass ball, the Panthers took a 4-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. NRHEG had just one hit in the fifth, but a Hayfield error and another pass ball opened the door.

The Vikings (1-1 overall) left the bases loaded in the third when Maleah Olson popped out to end the frame and Hayfield stranded runners on first and second in the fourth when Kenna Selk struck out with a chance to give Hayfield a lead.

Hendrickson has pitched in three state tournaments for the Vikings, but she’s playing with a new cast of teammates this season as much of Hayfield’s lineup from two springs ago has moved on and Hayfield’s long-time catcher Jenna Jacobsen is now focusing on track and field.

Jenna talked to me about it and I support her 100 percent. I want her to do what’s best for her,” Hendrickson said. “She succeeds in track and she loves it. I’m so happy for Jenna. We have two catchers now that can definitely do it, but it’s tough getting used to a new catcher.”

Hayfield played the game with pink socks and headbands to honor their long-time head coach Jana Wagner, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Wagner is still co-head coach with Craig Selk, but she may miss some time with the team as she undergoes more treatment this spring.

“She’s been there for me since the start. I never would’ve gotten a chance without her,” Hendrickson said of Wagner. “She gave me a chance as an eighth grader and I’ve been pitching ever since. She’s one of my favorite humans and she means a lot to me. I’m glad that we could support her, even if she doesn’t like the attention.”

New Richland HEG 100  030  4 — 8  8  0

Hayfield 000  000  0 — 0  4  2

Hayfield pitching: Caitlyn Hendrickson (L) 7 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 7 R, 5 ER, 8 K

Hayfield hitting: Anna Bamlet, 1-for-3, BB; Natalee Heydt, 1-for-4, SB; Hendrickson, 1-for-3; Maleah Olson, 1-for-2; Kylie Freeburg, 1-for-3; Natalie Beaver, 0-for-2; Jo Tempel, 0-for-2, BB, SB; Nora Bamlet, 0-for-3; Kenna Selk, 0-for-2, BB