BOSCOBEL — It’s safe to say Belmont softball coach Jeff Hodgson won’t get over the result of Sunday’s 1–0 WIAA Division 4 sectional final loss to New Lisbon anytime soon.
Trailing 1–0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, Belmont engineered a two-out rally that put runners on first and second with clean-up hitter Emma Eastlick at the plate.
Eastlick ripped a two-out pitch from New Lisbon starter Michaela Vinz to center field for what looked like a game-tying RBI single.
Without hesitation Hodgson sent senior Daisy Cunzenheim home from second base.
But Rockets’ center fielder Elayne Hansen delivered a strike to the plate and Cunzenheim was called out despite vehement protests from the Belmont coaching staff that catcher Samantha Olson had been obstructing the plate without the ball.
“If the catcher is set up without the ball in front of home plate, it’s an obstruction call,” said Hodgson. “It’s a textbook call. She was sitting on the plate before she had the ball and the rule was not applied. This is going to be a bitter pill to swallow for a long time.”
The no-call not only disallowed the potential tying run, but it also ended the Braves’ promising rally.
“We had chances and they had chances and we stopped their chances except for in the third inning,” said Hodgson. “That was our time to break through. We came up with the big two-out hit, would have been tied and would have had runners on second and third.
“As soon as the catcher sat down in front of home plate, who knows how that affected my runner coming into home plate. She didn’t know where to go. The problem will always be if we weren’t good enough and they beat us badly we could have lived with that. But to lose on a call by the umpire is tough to swallow.”
The Braves never threatened again and finished a very successful season, that included a fifth straight Six Rivers West title and a third straight trip to sectionals, with an overall record of 21–5.
New Lisbon (19–2) advanced to the D4 state tournament for the first time since 2001. The Rockets will face Wausau Newman Catholic in Friday’s semifinal round.
New Lisbon scored the only run of Sunday’s game in the top of the third inning.
Krista Ulrich led off with a single past the shortstop before Vinz squibbed a cue shot to third base and beat it out for an infield hit. Leadoff hitter Elayne Hansen bunted to move the runners to second and third.
The Braves were able to tag out Ulrich after she got caught in a rundown on Adele Hansen’s attempt squeeze bunt, but Vinz scored the eventual game-winning run on Olson’s single back up the middle. Olson finished the day 3-for-3 for the Rockets, who had just seven hits. Vinz went 2-for-3.
“We hung in there and played really good softball,” said Hodgson. “It was just what a sectional final is supposed to be, except for the final outcome.
“None of our kids had expectations of just getting here. We had expectations of playing on Friday at Goodman Diamond. This isn’t how the fairy tale was supposed to end.”
WIAA Division 4 Sectional Final
New Lisbon 1, Belmont 0
(from Sunday, June 2 @ Boscobel)
New Lisbon 001 000 0 — 1 7 2
Belmont 000 000 0 — 0 5 0
Leading hitters — NL: Samantha Olson 3x3, Michaela Vinz 2x3. W — Vinz (7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 7 SO, 4 BB). L — Kalyn Kamps (21–5, 7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 5 SO, 0 BB)