Francis Howell North left fielder Audrey Baker could not have picked a better time to break out of her hitting funk. Baker’s breakout showing on Wednesday allowed the Knights to end a three-year winless drought against arch rival Francis Howell.
Baker, a .247 hitter entering a Class 4 sectional against Howell, had been been held hitless in four of her last six games against the Vikings, who had won seven straight over the Knights over the last three seasons.
Thanks to Baker’s dazzling 3 for 3 day at the plate with two RBI’s, host Howell North snapped the slump against Howell with a 4-3 victory.
Howell North (14-11) advances to play Marquette (20-7) in a state quarterfinal set for 12 p.m. Saturday at Marquette.
Baker was not the only key to the Knights shocking the Vikings. Austine Pauley and Emma Pardo also played key roles as well.
Pauley and Pardo had two hits each and Austyn Rowan did her part on the mound by pitching a complete game.
Rowan, a junior right-hander, gave up three runs on six hits, struck out four and walked just two hitters. She improved to 10-5 with the win.
The Knights, who scored just two runs in losing to the Vikings twice during the regular season, got a pair of runs in the first inning.
Pauley doubled to lead off the inning and came home to score off a sac fly by Courtney Laughlin and Howell North added another run on consecutive hits by Pardo, Sauhara Pauley, and Baker.
Howell came back to tie it in the top of the second on Olivia Hetzel’s RBI double and an RBI-groundout from Jillian Norton, but the Knights took back he lead in the bottom of the second.
Austine Pauley singled home Allison Murphy, who led off with a bunt single.
Howell’s Darby Joerling tripled in the fifth and tied the game 3-3 on a sacrifice fly from Megan Teersteeg. Joerling and Courtney Kinion led the Vikings with two hits apiece.
Then in the bottom of the fifth, Baker came through with a run-scoring double that put the Knights ahead to stay.
Francis Howell (16-9) managed to get one more runner on in the seventh, but the Vikings final threat fell silent.
Sophomore pitcher Whitney Boschert took the loss for Howell.