By Ken McKenzie
The Pacelli softball team used a five-run first inning to spark themselves to an early lead, coasting the rest of the way in earning an 8-3 win over Assumption.
The win Friday afternoon secured the Cardinals the WIAA Division 4 regional championship at Spud Field in Plover and extended their season, while the Royals finish their season with a 15-8 record.
“We came out aggressive right away and jumped on them early,” said Coach Ann Molski. “We knew she (Royals’ pitcher Megan Buntrock) would be around the plate and we got some key hits to put up all those runs in the first two innings. Then we allowed our defense to hold them in check the rest of the way.”
Pacelli senior pitcher Kaylee Krostag scattered seven hits with the Cardinals’ defense, snuffing an Assumption rally in the top of the fifth as third baseman Sydney Alery fielded a sharp grounder.
“We just need to prepare and think one game at a time now,” said Molski. “Just let it go and play our ball, that’s what we want to do now.”
Key hits in the early uprising were base hits by Ashleigh Fuchs and Sydney Alery.
In the second, the Cardinals got all their runs on one swing of the bat as Sarah Mitch hit a line drive homer over the left field fence to make it 8-1. This followed a leadoff single by Taylor Raflik, a walk to Sami Kay Shafranski and fielder’s choice by Nicole Schroeder to set the table for Mitch’s three RBI at bat.
“Sarah’s homer just jumped out of here,” said Molski.
Hannah Raflik and Ashley Fuchs followed Mitch’s blast with back-to-back doubles, but the Cardinals failed to cash in on those runners in scoring position as a strikeout and fly out ended the inning.
In winning their second level WIAA tourney game, Pacelli buries the sting from last year’s loss to Shiocton in regional finals as they seek to regain the mid-season momentum.
While Assumption suffered the loss, coach Mandy Turba was complimentary of her team’s effort, as well as that of Pacelli.
“The girls played really well tonight,” Turba said. “We let the first inning get away from us, but Pacelli is a great team and they can hit. I thought our defense played well tonight and kept us in at the end. I’m proud of each of these girls as they grew throughout the season. (Senior) Megan Buntrock threw well tonight and she will be missed both on and off the field.”
The Cardinals now advance to Tuesday’s sectional semi-final to be played at Almond at 5 PM against the weather-delayed, eventual winner of Saturday’s game between host Thorp (15-3) and Athens (9-2).
WP: Krostag LP: Buntrock
2B: (Assumption) Taylor Nelson; (Pacelli) Hannah Raflik, Sydney Alery
3B: (Pacelli) Sydney Alery
HR: (Pacelli) Sarah Mitch