Bluejays romp; Hatchets give them best game

The Bluejay softball team cranked out a 5-0 week that included blowing out all the competition in Saturday’s Medford Invite. But the best game of the bunch was Friday’s 7-6 thriller with Tomahawk.
“We have been on the wrong side of one-run games so far this season, so it feels really good to win one,” MHS coach Matt Ellenbecker said. “I was extremely happy with the way our girls competed right to the end.
“This was a tough game. Tomahawk really hit the ball well tonight. Our defense made all the plays that were there, though. This was a game that an error or two could have really lead to an avalanche of runs for them, but our players stayed focused in the field and when the time came to make a play they did that.
“It really looked like it was going to be a shoot-out, but both teams settled in after the third inning.”
THS coach John Larson noted, “Bottom line is we didn’t make enough plays and Merrill did. Combine our early struggles with some poor decisions defensively and the end result is either runs or runners in scoring position.”
The Jays secured the home-and-away season series by scoring a pair in the top of the 1st inning with a walk, Brianna LaMonica RBI triple and Lindsey Krueger run-scoring grounder.
But the Hatchets immediatley answered with a trio of runs on an error, Kacey Iwen RBI triple and Kendall Nelson run-scoring double, and Kelsey Paramore grounder.
The Jays knotted it in the second on Casey Steffen’s triple and Kelsey Messerschmidt sac fly. They pushed it to 6-3 in the 3rd with a pair of walks, a LaMonica sac fly and Krueger two-run homer over the left field scoreboard.
The Hatchets hardly flinched. They made it 6-6 in the bottom of the frame with singles from Stephanie Welke, Nelson and Saydee Juedes, and a two-run hit from Alex DuPlayee.
But Merrill would score the critical run in the 5th, when Krueger hit a lead-off single, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on an error.
Kalie Schmeltzer (9 H, 0 W, 3 K, 6 ER in 7 I) collected the win. DuPlayee (3 H, 3 W, 0 K, 6 R, 6 ER in 2-1/3 I) started and Sydney Myre (3 H, 0 W, 1 K, 1 R, 0 ER in 4-2/3 I) lost.
Half the Jays’ 6 hits went at least 3 bases, with Krueger (2-4, HR, 3 RBI) and LaMonica (3B, 2 RBI) leading the way. THS was paced by Myre (2-2, 2 RBI), Nelson (2-4, 3B) and Iwen (2-4, 2B).
Trumping the triumphant
Tuesday’s 10-4 triumph over Wausau West triumph was something of a surprise, especially the ease with which the Jays dispatched the Warriors.
West was riding the high of ending the 93-game Valley win streak of Stevens Point just three days previous, but wasn’t ready for Merrill’s 13-hit barrage.
“We played a solid game all around,” Ellenbecker said. “We got production from the bottom of the order, which we have been looking for. Kaylin Byer has been a machine at the plate lately.
“It doesn’t matter if she is down 0-2 or sitting 3-0; she is going to watch balls go by, fight off good pitches, and drive the ones she likes. It was a team effort today.”
Schmeltzer (9 H, 0 W, 2 K, 4 R, 3 ER in 7 I) worked the win.
Reegan Byer (4-5, 2B, 2 RBI), Jess Deering (3-4, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI), K. Byer (2-3, 2R) and Leesha Kleinschmidt (2-4, 2 RBI) pushed the envelope.
Red Raider repeating routs
The Bluejays literally made short work of Saturday’s Medford Invite. They roughed up Crandon (13-0) and Medford (11-1) in 5 innings apiece, and knocked Chequamegon around 11-1 with a 7-run 7th.
“Kalie was phenomenal all day and we hit the ball very well,” Ellenbecker said. “We received great production from our starters all day and we had some players come up to the varsity level for the tournament who also contributed to a very good day of softball. We batted .457 as a team over the three games with a lot of extra-base hits.”
The Jays jumped out with 5 and 4 runs in the first 2 frames of Saturday’s opener with Crandon. Katie Travis (2-3, 2B, 2 RBI), Kelsey Messerschmidt (1-1, 2 RBI) and Jojo Catlin (2B) paced the 10-hit offense.
Schmeltzer (3 H, 1 W, 5 K, 0 R in 5 I) won handily.
Merrill broke open a 0-0 Chequamegon game with 3 in the 4th, then closed with the 7-run 7th.
Schmeltzer (4 H, 1 W, 5 K, 1 R, 0 ER in 7 I) dominated. LaMonica (3-4, 2 B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI) and Kleinschmidt (2-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI) bumped the 14-hit attack, and Krueger, R. Byer and Travis all doubled.
A 7-run 2nd was more than enough against Medford, but 4 in the bottom of the 5th cut it off early.
K. Byer (2-3, 2 R), Kruieger (2-4, 4 RBI) and R. Byer (1-1, 2 W, 1 HBP, 2 R) powered the 13-hit offense. Schmeltzer (5 H, 0 W, 3 K, 1 ER in 5 I) took control.
Merrill improved to 4-5 in the WVC and 13-5 overall. West dropped to 4-5 and 7-13.
Rally time
The Hatchets were embroiled in a tight GNC game with Antigo last Tuesday until they blew it open with an 8-run 6th.
“It was a great conference win,” Larson said. “The Hatchets were very solid defensively and Alex tossed a three-hitter.”
Antigo scored in the 1st and it held up until THS tallied solo runs in the 4th and 5th for a 2-1 lead.
Ashley Berg (3-4, 2 RBI), Juedes (3-4), Nelson (2-3, 3B, 2 RBI) and Cassie Silvernale (2-3) pushed the team to 14 hits.
Midget mania
Tomahawk dropped 10-7 and 4-0 double-header home games to Hurley on Saturday.
“They were frustrating losses,” Larson said. ‘Both pitchers threw well enough to win. In game 1, the Hatchets struggled defensively. In game 2, we couldn’t get the bats going. At this point of the season (18 games), we can’t be performing as inconsistently as we are.”
Tomahawk scored 4 in the 2nd and 2 in the 3rd for a 6-0 lead that held until the 5th. But Hurley put up fives twice to reverse the big ‘mo.’
Nelson (3-4, 2-2B), Berg (2-3) and Juedes (2B) led THS to 10 hits. Myre (8 H, 3 W, 4 K, 10 R, 8 ER in 7 I) lost.
Hurley held a 1-0 edge in the 5th, but bumped it with 3 in the 6th. The Hatchets were held to 3 hits. DuPlayee (5 H, 2 W, 9 K, 4 R, 2 ER in 6 I) was saddled with the loss.
Tomahawk is 6-4 in the GNC and 8-10 overall. Antigo is at 4-3 and 8-8.

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