The Van-Far Indians baseball team knew they had their hands full when they hosted Valle Catholic in the Sectional round last Tuesday.
After all, Valle Catholic won the Class 2 state championship three years ago with a 30+ win season. They have also won 20+ games during the past two years.
Though the deck was stacked against them, the Indians didn’t back down from the challenge.
They took an early 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, one run on one hit was no where near enough in a tough 3-1 loss.
Valle Catholic has since advanced to the state championship game, where they will take on a Mansfield team with a deep tradition of winning baseball. In the Indians’ loss, they put Valle Catholic on their heels in the top of the first inning when Logan Wilson took advantage of two errors.
Wilson first reached base on an error by the first baseman. He later scored on an error by Valle Catholic’s shortstop.
Josh Hodde’s single in the inning was the team’s lone hit of the game.
Valle Catholic responded in their first time to the plate with a triple to score the tying run.
In the bottom of the third inning, a second run was scored on a passed ball with Hodde on the mound.
The final run was scored in the bottom of the sixth inning on a solo home run.
The Indians’ offense struck out 17 times in the loss, with 14 of them coming against Valle Catholic’s starting pitcher. Hodde was also impressive on the mound. He tossed six innings and allowed just two earned runs on five hits with 13 strikeouts and just one walk.
“I don’t know if you will see a better pitched game both ways the rest of the year,” said Van-Far head coach Dan Friedel. “Loida and Hodde were outstanding, and Josh deserved to get a win for his effort on the mound. Sometimes you do things well and still get beat. It was just one of those games that comes down to a couple plays or a couple at-bats and they made more out of those limited opportunities than we did.”
The loss meant it was the final game for seniors Colten Jensen, Nathan Beatty, Cody James, Josh Hodde, and Paul Schambach.
“First off, I just want to thank the five seniors we had on the team for their hard work and leadership,” Friedel noted. “Overall, I’m proud of the year we had. We were able to beat some good teams and had some really good wins. I think there is more left in the tank though for this group moving forward. Losing five seniors stinks, but it’s an opportunity for other guys to step in and step up. If we are willing to work this summer, there’s no reason we can’t compete for another district championship next year. We’ve just got commit to being better.”