10U Babe Ruth girls rally for state wins
A 7-6 opening loss to Babe Ruth State Tournament host Marinette last weekend may have all but eliminated the Merrill 10U girls chances of capturing a state title, but it couldn’t stop their drive to win.
They bounced back with a 22-21 marathon victory over Antigo, and after dropping a 13-8 contest to Wausau, they handed the only loss to champion Menominee, Mich., with a 12-9 finale.
“We were in every game and their effort was 110%,” Merrill manager Brian Schroder said. “We just had a few bad breaks. Some breaks went our way and some didn’t.
“That last game against Menominee, we hit their #1 pitcher really good. We told the kids to go out and have fun the last game and instead of watching strikes, they were driving the ball. They were getting used to the caliber of play.”
Merrill scored 4 in the 1st and 4 more in the 2nd to take an 8-3 lead over Menominee, then bumped it to 12-5 with 3 in the 5th. Menominee managed 4 in the 6th but it was too little.
“We elected to save Kelsie Belfiori to pitch five innings against Menominee, and she shut them down,” Schroder said. “They were an outstanding hitting team.”
Belfiori (4 H, 8 W, 7 H, 9 R in 6 I) took the win.
“We had some really good defensive plays that game,” Schroder said. “Ally had a really good catch where she jumped up and grabbed it, then fired to second to double the girls up. The girl was already rounding third because everybody thought that ball was gone.”
Melony Bolling hit 4-4 to wrap up an 11-15 tourney (.733). and Ally Semling was also 4-4 (7-10 overall, .700) to help Merrill reach 18 hits. Belfiori was 3-5 (10-14, .714), Megan Schroder went 3-3 (5-10, .500), Nora Trapp was 2-3 (8-11, .727).
Merrill appeared to be in control of the Antigo contest, leading 15-7 in the 4th inning, but 11 runs in the top of the 5th on only 2 hits put Antigo up 18-15. Antigo finished with 3 hits and 24 walks. Merrill surged back in to the lead at 19-18, before Antigo scored 3 in the 6th. But Bolling saved it with a bases-clearing double.
“She hit a shot between center and left,” Schroder said. “She hit unbelievable all weekend. We had some really good hitting.”
Belfiori (4-4), Bolling (3-4), Jillian English (3-5), Schroder (2-3), Trapp (2-3) and Semling (2-3) helped Merrill get to 17 hits. Antigo had 3 hits and 24 walks.
Merrill was unable to rally from another teams comeback in Friday’s opener with Marinette. The locals held a 5-1 edge through 4-1/2 innings, but 5 walks and an error let Marinette tally 6 runs for a 7-5 lead. Belfiori hit and stole her way around the path, but Merrill came up one short.
“Some of the young girls had never seen pitching like that,” Schroder said. “They were a little shell-shocked the first game, but after that they started coming around.”
Belfiori (1 H, 9 W, 7 K, 6 R in 5 I) took the loss.
Belfiori, Schroder, Bolling and Trapp managed solo hits.
A 7-run 2nd and 6-run 5th gave Wausau plenty of juice to pull off the 13-8 win. Merrill closed strong with 2 in the 5th and 3 in the 6th.
“By the time we played Wausau, we were eliminated from the state championship,” Schroder said. “We had already beaten that Wausau team 4-5 times this year so we decided to pitch our younger girls and save Kelsie for Menominee.”
Bolling (3-4), Belfiori (2-3), Trapp (2-3) and Semling (1-3) boosted Merrill to 8 hits.