Haugsness nearly flawless on the mound, leads North Platte softball to home title

DEARBORN, Mo. — Victoria Haugsness admitted to tiring out a bit during a lengthy season debut. North Platte’s senior pitcher did a lot to limit her work during three games in the Northland Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 22 at Dean Park. She hurled three one-hitters in 15 innings of work — two of the victories run-rule shortened — to lead the Panthers’ to the title in the four-team round robin.

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo North Platte senior pitcher Victoria Haugsness delivers a pitch against Lexington during the North Platte Invitational held Saturday, Aug. 22 at Dean Park in Dearborn, Mo.

In an all-state junior season, Haugsness helped North Platte reach the Class 2 Missouri State Softball Championships semifinals before finishing fourth. She’s the biggest piece back for the Panthers, hoping to make another playoff run.

“It’s a good way to start off the season, positive and on a good note,” Haugsness said. “I think it helps boost our confidence and to know what we’re capable of. We can still do great things.”

In addition to her efforts on the mound, Haugsness went 8-for-9 at the plate, collecting six RBIs and scoring the winning run in a 3-0 victory against Lexington in the finale, which wrapped up the championship for North Platte (3-0). She struck out 25 overall despite throwing five innings in a 14-0 win against East Buchanan and three innings in a 15-0 win against West Platte.

“Vic is Vic,” North Platte coach Ron Resler said. “She does what she has to do to win. I was getting ready to tell (assistant coach Ryan Davis, who arrived late after coaching the junior varsity in tournament play in Camden Point) we haven’t given up a run today. I thought if I say that then what will wind up happening is Lexington is going to get a run, so I thought I’ll just wait until it’s over with.”

Both North Platte and Lexington were undefeated entering the final game of the round-robin tournament to set up a de facto championship game. The Minutewomen entered after defeating West Platte 15-0 and squeezing by East Buchanan 9-7.

Lexington threatened to score in the bottom of the first inning — after winning the coin toss to play as the home team — but Haugsness pitched around a leadoff single and stolen base. She struck out the side to strand the runner in scoring position.

North Platte put a baserunner on in each inning but didn’t push a run across until the sixth inning. Haugsness led off the inning with a single — her third hit of the game en route to going 3-for-4 — and Martina Williams then sacrificed her to second base. Haugsness scored the first run after an overthrow from the second baseman.

“It felt good to get the energy going,” Hausness said. “I could tell that everyone was down until we got the run in.”

North Platte tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the seventh on runs from McKenna Fulton and Alley Rickel. Kaycee Hodgson also put up a big performance at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBIs against East Buchanan and adding two hits, including a double, and two RBIs against West Platte, which went winless in its three games.

West Platte did not score a run until their final matchup with East Buchanan. The Bluejays jumped ahead with two runs in the top of the second inning but allowed 15 unanswered runs to suffer their third run-rule loss of the day.

“It’s something I anticipated,” West Platte coach Angelica Maxwell said. “We’re really young. As a young team and people in new positions, it’s going to happen that people are going to make errors. I fully anticipated this weekend as an evaluation to prepare for the upcoming season.”