Third-time charm gives regional title

The Bluejay softball team was bound and determined to lock down its first WIAA regional title since 2007, but could they beat Antigo for the first time in three attempts on Thursday?
No problemo.
Merrill crushed the Red Robins 15-4 in 4-1/2 innings to set up Tuesday’s sectional contest at D.C. Everest, another squad with a 2-0 mark vs. MHS this year.
“The girls really hit the ball hard and kept it in play much better than the first time we played Antigo this season (an Apr. 29 double-header),” MHS coach Dave Brandvold said. “Amanda Kessler is a very good pitcher and we have had difficulties hitting her the past two years. But (Thursday) the kids hit the ball right on the sweet spot and hit it hard.
“The bottom of our order, (Kelsey) Messerschmidt, (Courtney) Anderson, and (Jessica) Deering each reached base three times going 5-for-8 and the three scored three runs each. When those three are getting on, stealing bases, and scoring runs, our team really becomes lethal.”
Ever since a 3-3 start, the Bluejays were 14-4, winning 11 of their last 14 and 5 of their last 6 heading into Tuesday’s contest, including an 11-3 regional opener against Marshfield last Tuesday.
After a scoreless first, the Jays tallied five and seven runs over the next two frames to grab a huge 12-0 lead with clutch hit upon clutch hit.
Antigo broke through with four in the top of the fourth, but Merrill scored three in the bottom of the inning, then switched up pitcher Aly Brandvold for Megan Pehlke, who put the Red Robins down in order for the 10-run-rule win.
“Antigo did string some hits together in the fourth, although all but one were bloopers that were just out of reach,” Brandvold said. “That was why we kept scratching for every run we could get. Antigo was down 8-4 against East and rallied eight runs in the sixth. We didn’t want to give them any hope of coming back against us.
“We have brought in Megan for Aly and Aly for Megan a couple of times this year just to give the other team a different look. With Antigo’s bats, we wanted to end the game as quickly as possible.”
Brandvold (7 H, 2 W, 2 K, 4 ER in 4 I) collected the win and Pehlke (0 H, 1 K, 0 R in 1 I) closed it out.
Merrill reached Kessler for a dozen hits, including five doubles. Kaylin Byer (3-4, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R), Chelsey Dorgan (2-3, 2B, 2 RBI), Deering (2-3, 3 R, 2 SB), Messerschmidt (2-3, 2B, 3 R), Brianna LaMonica (2-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI), Emily Heckendorf (2-4) and Lindsay Krueger (1-2, 2B, 4 RBI) provided punch.
Tigers milked
The Jays jumped out 3-1 in the first, bumped it to 6-3 in the third, then padded the lead with three in the fourth and two in the sixth.
“Our girls executed everything tonight,” Brandvold said. “We hit the ball, put bunts down, and hit the ball hard with runners in scoring position. Our running game was excellent as we took extra bases and moved runners along whenever we could. We also had some of our JV players contribute as their speed was lethal when they ran for some of our girls. It’s nice to have that luxury.
“If we can keep putting the ball in play and we can play with anyone. Our defense was very sharp tonight. Courtney made a terrific catch in that gale like wind in right field and our infield made every play. Emily threw another girl out and it was just an overall great performance. Chelsea and Kaylin made every throw from third and short which was tough under the wind conditions.”
Pehlke (6 H, 3 W, 5 K, 3 ER in 7 I) picked up the win.
“Megan Pehlke pitched a great game,” Brandvold said. “I’m glad she is back healthy as she and Aly will make a good combination over the next few games provided we keep winning.”
The Bluejays reached nine hits, paced by Byer (3-3, 3B, 3 R), LaMonica (2-4, 2 R), Dorgan (1-3, 2B, 2 SB), Branvold (1-4, 2 RBI) and Heckendorf (1-2, 3 RBI).
Heckendorf executed a suicide squeeze play with Byer at third in the fourth. Dorgan ripped a two-run double in the third.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top