By Jason Groth
While many teams are struggling to find places to play and are stuck inside, the Itasca Community College Viking softball team already has 17 games under its belt. The Vikings opened the season with a trip to Florida which saw the team finish 4-7 overall playing the likes of Gloucester, DuPage, County College of Morris, Ridgewater, St. Cloud Tech, Hibbing and Kellog Colleges.
“The trip overall was a success. It was good to get out and play on a ballfield and get out of the gym,” ICC head coach Kyle Erickson said. “We played 11 games down there which is perfect. We will be ahead of the game with these games under our belt.”
After returning from Florida, the Vikings headed south to Rosemount to play in the annual Irish Dome Tournament. The indoor tournament allowed the Vikings to get five more games under their belts where they earned a 3-3 record.
The Vikings feature a sophomore laden squad which features six sophomores in the form of Kim Felix, Kelcie Ingle, Angelica Kramer, Taya Chandler and Anya Olson.
“It’s great. They have been a tremendous help off the field and on the field you always expect your sophomores to take the leadership and they are doing that,” Erickson said. “I think they are growing into that and they have certainly grown since the first day of practice to where we are at now. We have quality character, quality talent and quality depth. I couldn’t be happier having that sophomore class.”
The Vikings strong point will be on the mound where they feature three strong pitchers led by Olson. Greenway’s Kayla McInerney helps forms a solid one-two punch on the hill for the Vikings. Christine Kreatz of Watertown, is expected to fill some innings as well.
“It’s nice having three pitchers eat up some innings especially down in Florida,” Erickson said. “It’s led by Anya, she is our second year player and kind of our horse. We will be getting as much out of her as we can. Kayla is a nice compliment to Anya. If we are doing double headers, it’s a tough one-two punch for any opponent to face. We have Christine, who can gobble up some innings to save the arms of Kayla and Anya.”
The Vikings are loaded with several local players from Grand Rapids and Greenway. In fact, the Vikings boast seven total former Thunderhawks and Raiders in the form of Greenway’s Ingle, McInerney and Emily Kessler. Kim Felix, Sydney Anderson, Taya Chandler and Olson are the contingent of former Thunderhawks on the Viking squad.
“It’s nice having as many local kids coming to play at the college, doing well and succeeding,” Erickson said. “Having those pipelines with Greenway and Grand Rapids has been a great help.”
Offensively, Erickson says, the Vikings will be led at the top of the order with Ingle setting the table. Taya Chandler, Kim Felix, Arielle Robinson and Angelica Kramer will have critical roles in the Vikings having success at the plate.
The Vikings continue their season on the road on Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 30 at the Blue Knight Crossover at the Rosemount Irish Dome.
The Vikings home opener is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8 against Mesabi at 3 p.m.