GAME OF THE WEEK (June 10–16)
WIAA DIVISION 4 SOFTBALL STATE SEMIFINAL:
Southwestern (24–3) vs. Cochrane–Fountain City (24–4), Friday, June 10 at Goodman Diamond (Madison), 9 a.m.
For the second time in as many weeks all eyes in our part of the state will be on the Southwestern softball team.
The Wildcats continued their amazing postseason run, knocking of second-ranked Juda/Albany 4–2 last Wednesday, then dispatching 10th-ranked De Soto 5–3 on Thursday to win the WIAA Division 4 Belmont sectional final to earn the school’s first-ever state softball tournament berth.
Sixth-ranked Southwestern will face third-ranked Cochrane–Fountain City in this week’s McDonald’s Swnews4u.com Game of the Week Friday at 9 a.m. at Madison’s Goodman Diamond in the first D4 state semifinal.
The winner will move on to Saturday’s state championship game schedule to begin at 12:30 p.m. against either top-ranked Thorp (26–2) or Oakfield (18–18).
“When we got the No. 3 seed in our sectional, I said to the girls in every game we played, that we are the better team, and I believed we were the better team,” said Southwestern head coach John Costello.
Southwestern’s road to state included an 8–0 win over Six Rivers West champion and eighth-ranked Belmont (19–7), and now wins over top-10 teams on back-to-back days last week, Juda/Albany (22–6) and De Soto (20–4).
Last Wednesday night, the Wildcats gutted out a 4–2 sectional semifinal win over second-ranked Juda/Albany, which ended Southwestern’s season last year with a 3–2 regional final win. Last week, the Wildcats used four hits to score three runs in the top of the first inning, which included an RBI double from Rachael Myers and RBI singles from Allison Kruser and Rachael Muller, and never looked back.
In the pitching circle, senior Madison Kuhl gave up just one earned run on two hits, while striking out five batters and walking one.
Kuhl was again at the top of her game the following night, striking out 14 De Soto batters, while walking three, allowing three runs on four hits in the sectional final contest.
“Madison has been fabulous, and [Thursday night] she brought her “A” game,” said Costello. “She did a fabulous job of keeping the ball around the plate. She made some huge clutch pitches against their good hitters, and got them to ground out and to pop out. I can’t say enough about Madison’s leadership, along with the other seniors as well.”
The Wildcats got on the board first with two runs in the bottom of the third inning, where Amber Brand had an RBI double to score Myers, who later scored on a mishandled grounder hit to third base by Allison Kruser.
Hanna Hinman smashed a two-run home run in the fourth to plate Claire Splinter, and give the Wildcats a 4–0 lead. Kuhl added an RBI single to score Myers on a hard-hit grounder up the middle.
Southwestern’s 5–0 lead then came under attack in the top of the sixth inning, where De Soto scored three runs to get back in the game. Kuhl, and the ‘Cats managed to stop the bleeding in time, and came up with two big outs to strand a runner on third, preserving a 5–3 lead.
“It’s emotional, it’s a high, it’s awesome,” said Costello after the game. “I’m so proud of these girls, and I can’t say enough good things about them. I tell you, at three different times (during the game) I had tears in my eyes. They’ve worked their tails off and I’m very proud of them. I am just so excited for them.”
WIAA BASEBALL STATE TOURNAMENT:
DIVISION 3: Ithaca (21–3) vs. Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran (13–7), Wednesday, June 15, at Fox Cities Stadium (Grand Chute), 8 a.m.
Junior Joey Clary smashed a two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday afternoon to lift the Bulldogs to a dramatic 8–7 victory over Hillsboro in the WIAA Division 4 Weston Sectional final. Clary blast lifted Ithaca to a third-straight state tournament. The Bulldogs (21–3) will face Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran (13–7) Wednesday at 8 a.m. at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute in the first D4 state semifinal. Ithaca defeated Highland 7–5 earlier on Tuesday in the sectional final. Clary ended the game by throwing a runner out at third base from the outfield. He also had three hits in the win.
Prairie du Chien (24–1) vs. Markesan (24–0), Wednesday, June 15, at Fox Cities Stadium (Grand Chute), 1 p.m.
The Southwest Wisconsin Conference champion Blackhawks defeated Arcadia 12–3 last Thursday to win the La Crosse Aquinas Sectional championship. Prairie du Chien returns to the state tournament for the first time since finishing runner-up in Division 2 in 2008. It was 1957 when Markesan participated in its only state tournament prior to this year. The undefeated Hornets return almost six decades later thanks to a six-inning, 12–2 triumph over Palmyra-Eagle in the Ripon Sectional final. They won the title in the North Division of the Trailways Conference this year.
SOFTBALL: Wisconsin Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Star Classic at Woodside Sports Complex (Wisconsin Dells), Tuesday, June 13, 9 a.m.
The best senior softball players gather next week to close out their careers at the two-day WFSCA All-Star event. The all-stars will practice on Monday and take part in an all-star banquet. Tuesday the stars will hit the field with games in all four divisions throughout the day at the Woodside Sports Complex in Wisconsin Dells. Each team will play two games.
Area all-stars include:
Division 2 Blue team: Sierra Brecke (Platteville), Claire Tashner (Platteville), Kelsey Achenbach (Prairie du Chien) and Kylie Hoffman (River Valley).
Division 3 Gray team: Alexis Galvan (Lancaster), Clara Chambers (Mineral Point) and Emily Wiederholt (Cuba City).
Division 4 Black team: Maddie Hawes (Potosi), Brook Knebel (Belmont), Ali Travis (Belmont), Whitney Winkers (Fennimore), Bailie Rose (Highland), Madison Kuhl (Southwestern), Amanda Meister (Riverdale) and Tatum Jackson (Black Hawk).