GAME OF THE WEEK (June 8–14)
PREP SOFTBALL: WIAA Division 5 state semifinal, Thursday, June 8
#2 Belmont (28–2) vs. #4 Chippewa Falls McDonell Central (20–4) at Goodman Diamond (Madison), 5 p.m.
Belmont coach Jeff Hodgson had a feeling this was a special team capable of achieving lofty goals. Last Thursday afternoon the Braves scored nine runs in the bottom of the first inning to run away with a 13–0 five-inning victory in the WIAA Division 5 Belmont sectional final to earn their sixth berth in the WIAA state tournament and first since 2009.
Belmont will face #4-ranked Chippewa Falls McDonell Central (20–4) in a D5 state semifinal game at Goodman Diamond in Madison today at 5 p.m. in this week’s McDonald’s SWNews4U.com Game of the Week. The winner advances to meet the winner of Thursday’s other state semifinal between Wausaukee (15–8) and Blair-Taylor (23–3) in the WIAA D5 state championship game on Saturday, June 10. First pitch is scheduled for 8 a.m.
“You don’t drive anywhere without knowing what road your going to take or without looking at a road map,” said Hodgson. “Maybe other coaches do it differently, but I quietly say to my players that I think we got a shot (at state). They did what we asked them to do. I’m so proud of them.”
The Braves (28-2 overall) didn’t have to leave home during their playoff run and, once they shook the monkey that was Southwestern off their back in Tuesday’s sectional semifinal game, the Braves came out with an intensity on Thursday that Black Hawk (14-12) had no chance to match.
After sophomore pitcher Sadie Willborn retired the Warriors in order in the top of the first inning, the Braves sent 14 batters to the plate in their half of the first to jump out to an early 9-0 lead. The hosts only had three hits in the inning, but used four walks and three Black Hawk errors to their advantage.
Senior third baseman Maddie Rand had a RBI-double and scored twice during the rally, while senior outfielder Lydia Leahy smashed a three-run single and scored a run for the Braves. Sophomore catcher Abby Althaus also had a RBI-single and a run scored in the first frame.
Last Tuesday, Willborn shut down the high-powered offensive attack of the #5-ranked Southwestern Wildcats with six shutout innings and had a key RBI-single during a three-run outburst in the third inning to lead the Lady Braves to a 3-1 victory in sectional semifinal action.
Senior Paige Nolan ripped a two-run single to open the Belmont rally in the third, and Willborn followed with a run-scoring base hit of her own to bring in Nolan for a 3-0 lead.
The Wildcats (21-8), who knocked off the Braves during last year’s tournament on their way to a state runner-up finish in D4 and also handed them one of their two losses this season with a 10–9 eight-inning win back on April 28.
“After beating Southwestern, I think we took a big sigh of relief and decided we were going to play softball,” said Hodgson. “When this team plays softball like they know how, they’re pretty good. We’ll see what the future brings.”
WIAA Division 5 State Championship: Saturday, June 10, at Goodman Diamond (Madison), 8 a.m.
PREP SOFTBALL: Wisconsin Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Star Classic, Tuesday, June 13 at Woodside Sports Complex (Wisconsin Dells)
Wisconsin's top seniors compete annually in the WFSCA Senior All-Star Game. Nominated by their coaches and selected for their softball accomplishments throughout their high school careers, this year’s seniors All-Stars will converge in Wisconsin Dells Monday for this year’s two-day event.
Each player is placed on a team with her peers, and the teams practice on Monday under the direction of a high school coach from the state. On Monday evening, all of the all-stars are recognized at a formal banquet. On Tuesday, each player competes in two games against other all-star teams. The seniors who are selected for this honor must raise money for the event, portions of which will be donated to Special Olympics. Ten area athletes were among this year’s 204 All-Star selections.
This year’s Area All-Stars are:
KD Hoyer, Platteville, Division 2/3 Blue
Taylor Briehl, River Valley, Division 2/3 Black
Maranda McCarthy, Iowa–Grnat, Division 4/5 White
Destinee Kruser, Mineral Point, Division 4/5 White
Paige Nolan, Belmont, Division 4/5 White
Katie Fritz, Southwestern, Division 4/5 White
Amber Brand, Southwestern, Division 4/5 White
Callie Norton, Darlington, Division 4/5 Blue
Brook McKillip, Potosi, Division 4/5 Blue
Sammy Lovelace, Black Hawk, Division 4/5 Blue
9 a.m. — D2/3 Black vs. D2/3 Gray
9 a.m. — D4/5 Blue vs. D4/5 Red
10:30 a.m. — D2/3 Blue vs. D2/3 Green
Noon — D2/3 Blue vs. D2/3 Black
Noon — D4/5 Blue vs. D4/5 White
1:30 p.m. — D4/5 White vs. D4/5 Black