SPRING GREEN — The flood gates opened in the bottom of the third inning.
The host and second-seeded River Valley Blackhawks strung together five straight hits — six in all during the outburst — and put up five runs to take a commanding 5–1 lead in last Tuesday’s WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal against third-seeded Platteville.
Then Mother Nature put a swift end to any Hillmen comeback hopes.
After Valley had loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth inning lightning struck and the game was delayed. The teams spent over an hour in their dugouts hoping to play out the remainder of the game, but heavy rain, dark skies and more lighting followed.
The game was finally called after an hour and 15 minute delay.
Since the four and a half innings were completed the game was considered an official game and River Valley was awarded a 5–1 rain-shortened victory leaving Platteville fans wondering why the game couldn’t be completed on Wednesday, prior to Thursday’s regional final.
The National Federation of High School softball rules states: If a game ends because of weather conditions, or darkness interferes with play so that the game is called (ended) by the umpire, it is a regulation game provided five full innings have been played; or if the home team has scored an equal or greater number of runs in four or four and a fraction turns at bat than the visiting team has scored in five turns.
“That’s been the rule forever, but the hard thing in this situation is that it means the conclusion of our season,” said Platteville head coach Jim “Louie” Lawinger. “It’s too bad, but I’ve been in that situation before. There is not much you can do. The WIAA wants the games to be finished on the day they are played. And it’s a real pain for the schools involved and the tournament organizers to come back and finish it the next day.”
As it was Platteville had its chance to knock off the SWC co-champions, however brief.
The Hillmen actually took a 1–0 lead in the top of the third inning when sophomore shortstop Lexi Budden tripled to deep right field and scored two batters later when junior catcher Madisen Moon hit a booming single to deep centerfield.
“I thought the way Megan [Schlueter] was pitching going into the bottom of the third that run might be enough to win it, but it wasn’t.”
The Blackhawks began timing Schlueter in the bottom of the third and the Platteville senior right-hander began getting to much of the plate.
Three straight singles by Emma Voss, Jenna Jacobson and Carly Kraemer produced a run and tied the game at 1–1. Then sophomore pitcher Kylie Hoffman doubled to right field to score Jacobson and Voss.
Megan Eberle singled up the middle to pate Kraemer to make it 4–1. After a strikeout Taylor Genthe doubled to centerfield to push across River Valley’s fifth run.
While the Blackhawks began hitting Schlueter hard, Hoffman settled in and dominated other than the two hits she gave up in the third.
Hoffman struck out six and didn’t allow a base runner in any inning other than the third.
“We have to give Hoffman credit. She was really sharp,” said Lawinger. “She throws a good rise ball and we were swinging and missing or we popped it up.”
River Valley (21–6) went on to defeat top-seeded Monroe (24–4) in Thursday’s regional final 2–1.
Meanwhile Platteville finished a highly successful season 16–6, a season that included the program’s first conference title since 2001.
“The loss was tough, but we still had a real fine season,” said Lawinger. “The girls know they lost to a good team especially after River Valley went on to beat Monroe. For the girls and me, it’s been a great ride. We put together a conference championship season that hopefully we can build on as a program and for other sports at the school as well.”
WIAA Division 2 regional semifinals
River Valley 5, Platteville 1
(from Tuesday, May 27 @ Spring Green)
Platteville 001 00 — 1 2 0
River Valley 005 00 — 5 8 0
Leading hitters — RV: Kraemer 2x3, Hoffman 2x3. 2B — RV: Hoffman, Genthe. 3B — P: Lexi Budden. W — Hoffman (5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 SO, 0 BB). L – Megan Schlueter (15–5, 4.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 SO, 4 BB).