East rout sets stage, but D.C.E. rally ruins Jays runner-up hopes

A chance for the Bluejay softball team to finish in a tie for second place in the Valley slipped away when D.C. Everest completed a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 5-4 victory in the regular-season closer last Thursday.
The Evergreens (17-4) finished at 10-2 with the win, while Merrill ended up at 8-4 in the WVC to go with its 15-6 overall mark. Second-ranked SPASH (21-1) won it with a perfect 12-0 mark.
“We just didn’t get the job done,” MHS coach Dave Brandvold said. “That doesn’t mean that we can’t do it in the playoffs.
“We just really have to be more consistent in out next four games. Everest gave us opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of all the ones they gave us.
“We lost a big run in the third when Kelsey was called out for leaving the base on a tag. There was no doubt she left when the fielder caught the ball, but Everest appealed and got the call.”
Merrill grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 4th after Lindsay Krueger doubled, moved up on a passed ball and scored on Emily Heckendorf’s sac fly. Brianna LaMonica’s sac fly in the 5th, aided by a pair of preceding errors and a Messerschmidt sacrifice, pushed it to 2-1.
Krueger tripled in the 6th and scored on a Hecken­dorf bobbled ball. The Jays made it 4-2 in the 7th when Kaylin Byer ripped an RBI double to score LaMonica, who had reached on another error.
“Lindsay Krueger did a great job at the plate with two hits,” Brandvold said. “We pounded the ball on the ground and caused some errors but we just couldn’t put together five or six at bats in a row. We played well defensively, but we just put too many people on base.”
The Jays were generous in return, allowing Everest’s 4th-inning tally on a two-out dropped pop fly. A walk and double had knotted it at 2-2 in the 5th.
Taylore Zblewski’s two-out RBI single gave D.C.E. the win.
Krueger (2-4, 3B, 2B, 2 R) and Byer (2-3) had the bulk of Merrill’s 5 hits. Aly Brandvold (7 H, 8 W, 3 K, 5 R, 4 ER in 7 I) took the loss.
Pepper ‘Jacks
The Bluejays had given themselves that runner-up shot with a 10-2 crushing of Wausau East on Tuesday at Ott’s Park.
“(Tuesday’s) game was a grind,” Brandvold said. “We just couldn’t uncork the bats tonight. We never had that run of several hits in a row.
“Lamonica and Heckendorf hit the ball well tonight and Kaylin Byer had an outstanding game. (LaMonica and Byer) are outstanding at the top of the order as they get on base and are fast enough to steal, bunt, and they both have power to get the ball into the alleys. They scored five of our ten runs tonight.”
Heckendorf (2-2, 3B, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SF), Byer (2-3, 2B, 3 R), LaMonica (2-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI), Chelsey Dorgan (2-4) and Krueger (2B, 2 RBI) helped the Jays reach a dozen hits. Brandvold (3 H, 5 W, 6 K, 2 ER in 7 I) picked up the win.
“Aly pitched really well,” Brandvold said. “Her control was a bit off early but she really settled down the last four innings as she recorded 4 of her 6 strike outs and retired 14 of the last 16 batters she faced.
“Lindsay Krueger made a outstanding catch of a dead zone soft liner between the mound and second as she dove far to her right.
“The Jay defense also recorded a 1-6-3 double play and they doubled up an East runner on a line out during a hit-and-run attempt.”
Merrill jumped out to a 4-0 led in the 1st, highlighted by lead-off doubles by LaMonica and Byer, an RBI triple from Heckendorf and run-scoring hit from Dorgan.
But East made a game of it with 2 runs in the 2nd, and Merrill led just 5-2 after the 5th before exploding for 5 in the 6th. Consecutive hits by Courtney Anderson, Jessica Deering, LaMonica (two-run), Byer and Krueger (a double) and a sac fly from Heckendorf that was dropped provided the major insurance.
The Merrill 10U Babe Ruth team that finished as the Ohio Valley Regional runner-up last year was introduced before the game, and the players stood with their Bluejay parallel during the national anthem.
“Youth night was fun,” Brandvold said. “It was neat seeing all the kids at the Park and introducing the girls that went to Kentucky last year with our varsity girls was pretty special.”

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