Lady Jays Softball Team wins at WIAA Regionals and Sectional Semifinals
TINA L. SCOTT
The Lady Jays played some great ball at the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Softball Regionals last Wednesday, June 16, taking on the Antigo Red Robins, and walked away a winner.
That advanced them to the next level, so on Monday evening, June 21, the Lady Jays played Medford at the WIAA Sectional Semifinals and brought home another win!
News of that win came in just before press time, so we don’t have all the details of the game. Coach Matthew Ellenbecker had just enough time to share the news. “We won 9-6 in eight innings tonight,” he said Monday evening after the game. “It was a great game.”
Sectional Semifinals Box score:
Merrill 9 @ Medford 6
That win now takes the girls to the Sectional Finals! On Wednesday, June 23, they’ll play Baldwin-Woodville in Mosinee. And that’s precisely why Coach didn’t have a lot of time to expound on the Monday night win. He was already focused on preparing for that Sectional Finals game on Wednesday. “I have a lot of info to dig up on our next opponent,” Coach said.
If they win that game on Wednesday, they’ll go on to the WIAA State Competition!
The Regional game
Coach Ellenbecker summarized the big game on the 16th: “Courtney Krueger (1R, 1H, 1RBI) started things off with a bang with a home run in the top of the first inning.” They would take it full circle for a Bluejay Victory and win the Regional title against the Antigo Red Robins.
The Bluejay Girls tacked on an additional run in the top of the first “when Hannah Losee (3H, 2RBI) hit one off the wall in left field scoring Erica Arneson who had entered as a courtesy runner for the catcher following a two-out base hit by Nicole Zoellner (1R, 2H, 1RBI),” Coach Ellenbecker said.
Merrill tacked on single runs in the third and fifth innings, “leaving some runners on base along the way,” and then, Nicole Zoellner hit a “no-doubt-about-it home run to left center to put the Jays up four” in the top of the seventh inning, Coach said. “Those runs would come in handy, as the Robins wouldn’t go down easy in the bottom of the seventh,” he added.
Antigo got a leadoff triple and tacked on two more base hits, including a double, to bring the score to 5-3 with the winning run coming to the plate in Red Robins clean up hitter, Ellie Preboske, Coach said. But the girls didn’t give up.
“Courtney Krueger was able to coax out a ground ball to second baseman, Addy Schmeltzer, who made the clean play and throw to first to end the game,” Coach said.
Kendall Krueger (2R, 2H) also stood out as the only player to score two runs in the game.
“We played really well today again,” Coach Ellenbecker said. “We made some big plays defensively. Laney Zuelsdorff, Courtney, Hannah, and Addy in particular had some plays that stood out for us. Antigo had us on our heels a bit in the seventh, but I think our senior leadership really shined through. Courtney executed big pitches and we made the plays behind her.”
“We did a really nice job driving the ball today with five extra base hits and those home runs. We left some runs out there, and Antigo made some plays that impacted that, as well,” he said of the team’s offense. “Brenna Steinagel scorched one with the bases loaded with two outs in the fifth that deflected off the pitcher who was able to gather herself and make the play. That was the kind of game this was. Both sides really making the other earn what they got.”
“I’m really proud of this group. We are playing very good ball, and they’ll have a nice Regional Championship plaque hanging in Merrill High School forever as a record of this accomplishment. It was a great team effort.”
Regional Box score:
Merrill 5 @ Antigo 3