BROOKFIELD - LaBrae softball coach Demetra Noble thought at the beginning of the season her Vikings' squad could surprise a few teams in the area.
The fact that they are now undefeated after 11 games even surprises Noble - to an extent.
"I wasn't sure what we could do. I felt like last year we were close, but this year I thought we had it in us," Noble said. "I picked up three really nice freshmen, and it has changed the whole package for our team. I don't think many teams around the area knew what we could do, but I did."
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
LaBrae catcher Laura Hall, left, makes the tag at home on Brookfield’s Haley Hogue for the out to end the third inning.
The latest LaBrae victory came on Thursday with a 9-2 rout of Brookfield. The Vikings are now 11-0 on the season, 5-0 in the All-American Conference, National Division.
"We were good last year, but there was so much good pitching in our league last year," Noble said. "You had Lindsay (Swipas, of Champion), Bailey (Shade, of Newton Falls) and Neco (Maderitz, of Girard) and last year we struggled hitting. This year, the softball gods are with us and we are hitting the ball."
Against Brookfield, the Vikings tallied 12 hits, with four players having multiple connections at the plate. Junior shortstop Somer McCoy had three hits and drove in two runs with a single in the second inning. Center fielder Danielle Miracle and right fielder Taylor Smith each added two hits with two RBIs in the victory.
It didn't take a softball genius to notice the aggressiveness the Vikings showed at the plate Thursday. It's a skill Noble has been drilling in to her team all during the offseason that the Vikings are buying into 100 percent, according to senior Jessica Buck.
"We've had a lot of mental batting practices," Buck said. "We've practiced a lot just looking at pitches across the plate and whether or not they are good or not. When you get a good pitch you have to swing at it."
The confidence at the plate has transitioned to confidence in the dugout as well. On their way to the 11 wins, the Vikings have defeated quality teams such as Girard, and swept the back-to-back series against arch rival Newton Falls.
"Every one was so excited (after the Newton Falls win)," Buck said. "We always knew we could do it, we just couldn't put it together in the past. But this year, we're not giving up. We won two close games against Newton Falls. We have a lot of confidence now."
While winning breeds confidence, the team chemistry is something both Noble and Buck said has pushed the Vikings to the next level.
"I'm really impressed with the enthusiasm on this team," Noble said. "They are funny and they are good kids. They are very family oriented and united. And they are hungry and ready to win."
While winning has been all the Vikings have known so far, they know they have a tough opponent next week in Champion, which they will face on Monday and Tuesday.
"Champion is going to be a very tough game," Buck said "But we believe in ourselves. We are confident we can go in there and get a win."