There seems to be an ongoing trend with the Lawrence baseball team: coming close to winning, but falling just short. Many of the Vikings’ losses this season could have gone the other way with just a few bounces here or there. The weekend featured a four-game series between our Lawrence Vikings and the Ripon Red Hawks. In the opening game Saturday, Chris Clouthier once again had an excellent pitching performance with his off-speed moving phenomenally and the batters barely touching anything he threw in general. Due to a few errors and not the greatest offensive support from the team, the Vikings ended up losing 4-1. In the second game, the Vikings turned it around and had solid hitting chemistry between all of the batters in the lineup and gave great run support. Pitcher Kevin Kangas went the distance, giving up only eight hits and throwing smoke and nasty breaking balls to get a very impressive 12 strikeouts. The entirety of the game was neck and neck, with each team responding to the other team scoring a run, but Tim Salm came through with a hard-hit clutch single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Vikings a 6-5 well-earned victory. In Sunday’s doubleheader, Ripon got their bats going quickly in the first game, taking an early 10-1 lead. The Vikings didn’t take long to respond with a strong comeback, highlighted by a huge home run bomb by Tommy Schmidt and RBI doubles by Brad Hauser, Hawk Haiduke, and Evan Neuens. But, as similar events played out in the second game as well, the Vikings had the chance to win both games with great playing but couldn’t throw the final punch. When asked about the series this weekend, and the team in general, junior designated hitter Ben Webster had this to say: “This series was exciting and frustrating. On one hand we handed Ripon their first conference loss and fought back hard in our three losses, but we could have beat them three out of four times.” He continued, “You can look at the box scores and see that it all came down to not getting the big hit in the big situation and making a big mistake in a big situation, but we batted .394 against them as a team.” “Baseball is a funny game,” elaborated Webster, “but losing does not make you laugh. I think we have come together enough to sweep Carroll for our seniors’ last conference series.” Webster’s words are just about as gold as his bat. Webster and senior Hauser served as the norm for the Lawrence batting lineup with each of them having seven hits and 2-3 runs and RBIs apiece. Although those two led the Lawrence hit-a-thon, the whole baseball team’s bats were hot like the weather. Let me just name two offensive statistics the team accumulated over the weekend: The Vikings had an absolutely incredible total of 45 hits and 26 runs. Third baseman Frank Forseth said, “You know we have really been pulling it together lately . we are using our heads and putting our talent to use. This last weekend our record didn’t turn out the best but if you can see from the statistics we are really coming together and this weekend should be a great series and winning sendoff for our seniors.” I have talked to many players on the team, watched them play, and looked at the improving statistics. After doing so, it is beyond apparent that the Vikings have what it takes to be a force and take all four games of any series, such as this coming weekend when the baseball team takes on Carroll in the last conference series and home games of the year. There will also be a senior send-off ceremony Saturday, so if you are here for reading period, come outside and support the Vikings and our awesome seniors. Hopefully they will be hitting homer after homer over the Whiting Field fence.