Atypical loss to Everest ends Bluejays? season

The second-seeded Bluejay girls had been on a complete roll, crushing both foes on their way to their first regional title since 2007. Their only loss in six games was a 5-4 nailbiter to D.C. Everest on May 26.
In the meantime, top-seeded opponent Everest had edged out fourth-seed Wausau West by a 5-3 tally in its only playoff contest.
But the Merrill wheels dropped off in last Tuesday’s WIAA sectional semi-final at Everest.
The Evergreens jumped out to an 8-0 lead all on unearned runs, and knocked MHS from the post-season with their 9-1 victory.
“It was a very difficult game for our team as we played completely different than we had all year,” Merrill coach Dave Brandvold said. “We had good preparation, the girls worked hard at practices and we just did not execute against Everest. I have to give Coach (Mike) Mathies and their pitcher Brenna Poeske all the credit because they simply took it to us Tuesday night.”
An overthrow at third base led to a solo run in the first inning for the Evergreens, and they took a 3-0 lead in the second with a two-out, two-run double by Taylore Zblewski, the WVC’s top hitter this year with a .600 average. D.C.E. received two gifts before it, a dropped ball and a third strike called a ball.
Everest picked up five runs after a pair of errors and an infield fly rule in the third. To add insult to injury, the final two scored when a ground ball was deflected away from shortstop Kaylin Byer’s quick cover.
A slapped single, bunt single and bunt sacrfice and RBI grounder gave the Evergreens their only earned run of the game in the fifth.
The Jays kept battling, and finally broke through in the seventh. Lindsay Krueger walked, moved up on a wild pitch and Emily Heckendorf fielder’s choice, and got home on Megan Pehlke’s grounder.
Poeske limited Merrill to just four hits, one apiece for Byer, Krueger, Brianna LaMonica and pinch hitter Katie Travis.
Zblewski batted 3-for-3 and drove in three runs for the game. The Evergreens ended up with 10 hits off starter Aly Brandvold and reliever Megan Pehlke.
Merrill closed out a 17-8 season that belied the difficult finish.
“We have no regrets on the season,” Brandvold said. “The girls had a great year and were so fun to coach. They received high praise from many coaches and fans from other teams. Umpires commented on how fun their games were to work and we took so many good things away from the year. We’ll miss our seniors, Aly, Chelsea (Dorgan), Megan, Emily, Courtney (Anderson), Lexi (Henkelman) and Emily Klade, but we have a solid core of juniors and sophomores back that will make next year as good, if not better.”

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