Bluejay Girls make a clean sweep last week
Merrill Softball Team wins all four games
The Merrill Bluejay Girls Softball Team played four games last week, on three different days.
On Thursday, May 13, Merrill Girls played Rhinelander in Merrill at the Merrill Area Recreation Complex (MARC).
“The Merrill Bluejays would put up four in the third inning and three more in the fourth and rode strong pitching performances from Addison Schmeltzer and Kendall Krueger to a 10-1 victory over the Hodags,” said Merrill Head Coach Matt Ellenbecker.
The game was knotted up at one after two innings and the Hodags made the Merrill defense work early. “Rhinelander was able to get the lead in the second inning by putting pressure on us defensively,” Ellenbecker said. “They got a baserunner on in the second inning and used small ball to get players moving. They executed well. Fortunately, we were able to get an out at home to get out of it with minimal damage done.”
The second time through the order, the Bluejay bats got going. Leadoff hitter Olivia Losee started off the inning with a towering triple to deep right field, and things would roll from there. Courtney Krueger then reached on a sharply hit ground ball that was misplayed by the third baseman, and Hannah Losee walked to load the bases. Nicole Zoellner drove a double to left field that plated two runs. Kendall Krueger would follow up with a two-run single to make it 5-1 Jays.
Merrill would tack on three additional runs in the fourth inning, capitalizing on hard hit balls and some Hodag misplays. The Jays would get additional runs in the sixth inning on a wild pitch and a Dani Korman RBI single.
Addy Schmeltzer pitched the first four innings, giving up two hits and one run. She walked one batter and struck out four. Kendall Krueger pitched the final three innings, allowing two hits and no runs with two strike outs. Each pitcher allowed one base on balls.
The week proved to be a big response week according to Coach Ellenbecker. “This was a nice performance to wrap up a solid week for us. We bounced back from a couple of disappointing performances the prior weekend. It was good to get back to playing fundamentally sound ball.”
The Girls played a doubleheader against Wausau East on Tuesday, May 11.
The Bluejays won game one of a doubleheader with Wausau East in the most dramatic fashion, scoring three runs to walk off with an 8-7 victory over the Lumberjacks. With the Jays down 7-6 and Kendall Krueger on secnd base, with two outs and two strikes, sophomore Addison Schmeltzer roped a line drive that cleared the wall in center field for the walk off victory.
The Bluejays entered the bottom of the seventh down by two runs. Hannah Losee led off with a solo homerun that would cut the deficit in half. Kendall Krueger doubled with one out, and the Jacks were able to retire Dani Korman for the second out, setting up Schmeltzer’s heroics.
The game was a test of will for the Jays from the very start, as the Lumberjacks struck hard in the top of the first inning with five runs. The big blow was a three-run home run by freshman Claire Coushman.
The Jays got one back in the bottom of the first when Kendall Krueger drove in Olivia Losee with a two-out single.
The Jays knotted things up at five in the bottom of the second. The bottom of the order got things going with a one-out base hit by Brenna Steinagel followed up by a single from Laney Zuelsdorff. With two outs, Courtney Krueger drove in a run with a single, and Hannah Losee followed that up with an RBI double. With runners on second and third, Wausau East elected to intentionally walk Nicole Zoellner to load the bases. Kendall Krueger made them pay, as she hit a towering drive into the right-centerfield gap that bounced off the glove of the sprinting right fielder. Two runs scored to tie the game.
East scored two in the top of the third with some sharp hitting and a Bluejay misplay to regain the lead, 7-5. That held up until the seventh inning comeback.
Kendall Krueger came in the game in the fourth inning and held the Lumberjacks scoreless the rest of the way to earn the win. She allowed three hits and recorded one strikeout in the first Wisconsin Valley Conference (WVC) victory as a pitcher.
“This was a really big win for us. We were a little shell-shocked after that first inning, but we didn’t fold. We battled and battled and came all the way back,” Coach Ellenbecker said. “What a way to finish. Hannah’s home run to lead off the inning gave us some energy, and then to have Addy come through with two outs and two strikes… One thing I have learned about Addy is that there is a fiery competitor within that quiet personality.”
“Wausau East is a very solid team this year,” the Coach said. “There is no sleeping on them. They hit us in the mouth in this one, and we showed we can take a punch. I think that’s important, as we’re going to find ourselves playing from behind at times. We play a lot of good teams, so we need to be able to handle that. Today we did a great job of that.”
Wausau East 7
In the second game, the Bluejays scored one in the first and added three runs in each of the third and sixth innings to pull away from Wausau East. Courtney Krueger singled in the first inning and scored on an error to give Merrill the early lead. Wausau East scored a run on a bases-loaded hit by pitch in the bottom of the second inning, but the tie ballgame wouldn’t last long.
In the top of the third inning, Allison Palecek led off with a single. Courtney Krueger and Hannah Losee benefited from errors on a couple of hard hit ground balls to load the bases. Nicole Zoellner did what a clean up hitter is called to do and cleared the bases with a double, putting Merrill up 4-1.
The Bluejay’s half of the sixth began with a double by Brea Pieper. Addison Schmeltzer drove her in with a base hit to centerfield. Courtney Krueger drove in Schmeltzer and Allison Palecek with a two-out single to make it a 7-1 game and round out the scoring.
Addison Schmeltzer was the winning pitcher for the Bluejays, as she went the distance, allowing just four hits and striking out eight Lumberjacks. The win is the first WVC victory for the Sophomore hurler.
Coach Ellenbecker was happy with the team’s performance in game two: “We really came out and played a solid game after the excitement of game one,” he said. “I thought we had really good at-bats, and while our hit total might not necessarily reflect it, we hit the ball well and took advantage of some miscues. We’ve been able to move some people around and have some versatility to play people in some different spots to find out what our best lineup is as we work through the season, and I thought a lot of girls stepped up and played well tonight. It was a nice team win.”
Wausau East 1
Previously, on Monday, May 10, the Merrill Bluejays played the Mosinee Indians at Mosinee and took home a win with a final score of Merrill 7 – Mosinee 1.
“We got off to as good a start as a team could ask for in the top of the first,” Coach Ellenbecker said. “Olivia Losee ripped the first pitch for a single, and Courtney Krueger followed that up with another line drive single to left. Hannah Losee walked to load the bases, and Nicole Zoellner hit a towering fly ball down the left field line for a grand slam. About 10 pitches in, and we are up 4-0. We continued to have good at-bats, but lacked timely hits until Addy Schmeltzer drove in a couple runs with a two-out single in the fifth. Hannah Losee would tack on our final run with a bomb to left in the sixth inning.”
“Courtney Krueger was in control in the circle the entire game,” Ellenbecker said. “She really threw great. We played excellent defense behind her, and that is the recipe for success. This was about as clean a game as we played in all facets all year, which was really important coming off of two games the previous Saturday in which we didn’t play to our own expectations.”