Katelyn Berg (3) went 2-for-4 with a run scored for the Vikings. Photo by Tim Kolehmainen, Breakdown Sports Media
North Branch center fielder Katelyn Berg didn’t flinch for the Vikings (25-2) with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
The senior made a game-sealing grab on a fly ball to clinch a 3-1 victory over the Pioneers (17-4).
“I was just really confident,” said Berg about her game-winning catch.
Senior pitcher Sam Pederson was, too. “I knew right off the bat that she had it because she makes those plays all the time,” she said.
Hill-Murray scored first in the fourth inning with pitcher Jayna Witzany driving in a run, scoring senior right fielder Amber Peterson.
North Branch tied the game in the fifth with Pederson scoring a run on a single by senior Amber Yoch.
The Vikings, making their first state tournament appearance, broke the 1-1 tie in the sixth inning with Berg scoring on a single by sophomore shortstop Macy Brodin.
Pederson struck out 11 batters, allowed five hits and no earned runs. For the Pioneers, Witzany had six strike outs and gave up two earned runs.
North Branch defeated Hill-Murray 3-1 on Thursday to reach the Class 3A championship game.
It began as a pitching duel with the game tied 1-1 going into the sixth inning. North Branch (25-2) scored the go-ahead run in the sixth and added an insurance run.
North Branch more offense earlier in the day with a 12-0 rout of Holy Angels (15-9) in the quarterfinals. The Vikings will face Faribault for the championship Friday while Hill-Murray (17-4) will play for third place.
Check back later for more on the game.