Bluejay girls carry the load in Portage tourney
The Bluejay girls finally found themselves on a diamond in last Tuesday’s 5-4 triumph in Wis. Rapids.
Then they got serious with a pair of Friday losses to third-ranked D.C. Everest and two wins in Saturday’s Portage Tourney.
The Jays crushed Lodi 11-2 in Saturday’s opener then closed out the title with a 2-0 triumph over La Crosse Logan.
“This was a great day for Merrill Fastpitch,” MHS coach Matt Ellenbecker said. “We worked well as a team throughout the day and learned more about what everybody is capable of and what we each need to work on. We have a pretty tight-knit group and we got stronger as a unit today.
“This was a very nice win against a solid (Logan) team. In this one the bottom half of the order really stepped up
“We played a fantastic game defensively. Logan lead off the bottom of the sixth inning with a walk and a single to put runners on first and second. The next batter popped one up into shallow center. Reegan (Byer) never gave up on the ball and was just able to snag it with full extension. She spun and fired to first base to double up the runner there. Chelsey LaMonica made a nice scoop to complete the double play. That was big time. Showed great athleticism and smarts.”
Merrill picked up solo runs in the second and fourth innings. LaMonica singled and scored on Makayla Heckendorf’s double, then LaMonica reached in the fourth, moved up on Heckendorf’s double and scored on Mariah Turenne’s hit.
Merrill– 010 100 0–2.
L.C.L.– 000 000 0–0.
MP: Makayla Heckendorf – 7I, 4H, 1W, 4K, 0R, 0ER. M hitting–Heckendorf 2-3, 2-2B; LaMonica 2-3, 2 R; Turenne 2-3.
Merrill blew open a tight Lodi game with eight runs in the sixth.
“It took a bit for our bats to warm up, but we really came alive in the bottom of the 6th inning,” Ellenbecker said. “We did a great job all around that inning.
“While we waited for our bats to come around, Molly Schultz did a tremendous job in her first varsity pitching appearance throwing six outstanding innings.”
Lodi– 002 000 0–2.
Merrill– 002 018 x–11.
MP: Schultz – 6I, 4H, 1W, 8K, 2R, 0ER; LaMonica 1I, 1H, 0R. M hitting–Leesha Kleinschmidt 3-4, 3B, 2B 2 RBI; Byer 2-3, 2-3B, 3 RBI, 3 R; Turenne 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Brooke Arneson 2-4, 2 R; Lamonica 2B; Emily Travis 1-1, 2 R.
The Jays took the lead in their opener in the fifth and Ashley Ollhoff hit the winning blast in the sixth.
“We are very happy to get the win against a solid program,” Ellenbecker said. “It took a few times through the order, but we finally started to hit the ball. We lost our early lead due to a some misplays in the fourth, but we answered right back.
“When you get the number of runners on base that we did you hope to score more runs. Ashley’s big home run leading off the sixth proved to be the difference.
“Makayla Heckendorf pitched a very good game. We got out of a bases-loaded, no outs jam in the second inning due to some tough pitching and smart plays.”
Merrill– 100 031 0–5.
Wis. Rap.–000 300 1–4.
WP: Makayla Heckendorf – 7I, 7H, 2W, 4K, 4R, 2ER. LP: Allison Brost. M hitting–Starr Krenzke 3-4, 2 R; Ashley Ollhoff 2-3, HR; Leonna Ives 2-4; Reegan Byer 2-4; Makayla Heckendorf 2-4; Katie Wayda 1-4, 2B.
The Jays were edged 1-0 and lost 9-3 in Friday’s double-header.
“We played right with a very good team in this one,” Ellenbecker said. “That gives us confidence that, if we keep working hard and improving, we will be able to play with and beat any team we face.
“Brooke Gajewski is a returning unanimous First Team All-Conference player, and she showed how tough she is today. Makayla was outstanding for us. Holding Everest to three hits and zero earned runs is extremely impressive. Our defense was pretty solid throughout. We had a chance to get out of the sixth with the game tied at zero.”
Merrill– 100 031 0–5.
D.C.E.– 000 300 1–4.
MP: Makayla Heckendorf – 7I, 3H, 2W, 5K, 1R, 0ER. MH–3H; Byer 2-3, 2B.
Merrill tied it up 3-3 in the fourth, but four in the fifth and two in the seventh gave D.C.E. the win.
“We responded in the fourth inning with four hits off of Gajewski which plated three runs,” Ellenbecker said. “Everest brought in a new pitcher after that, and we loaded the bases but weren’t able to score again.
“I left Makalya out there longer than I probably should have in this one, but she pitched so well that I thought she gave us our best shot.”
D.C.E.– 300 040 2–9.
Merrill– 000 300 0–3.
MP: Makayla Heckendorf – 7I, 13H, 2W, 3K, 9R, 7ER. MH–8H, 1W; Kleinschmidt 2-4, 2B; LaMonica 2-4.