If the Pacelli Cardinals wanted to win a state title in dramatic fashion, they absolutely succeeded.
The game had it all: balls in play, great defensive action, anxiety-inducing situations and gallons ice water running through both teams’ veins. But in the end, it was Pacelli who was able to put the one and only run up on the board and win the WIAA D4 State championship over the Oakfield Oaks.
That one run came in the sixth inning, just in time to really put pressure on the Oaks. Senior Sami Kay Shafranski led off with a slap single past the first baseman and freshman Paige Hintz was able to advance her over with a sac-bunt. Then it was Sarah Mitch’s turn to play hero as she took a fastball and lined it into center field, bringing in the speedy Shafranski.
“We talked all year about how it would come down to one or two things that we were really going to have to execute on. Today we got a girl where she needed to be and Sarah came through with that big hit and we scored her,” said Pacelli head coach Ann Molski. “In a good game against a good team all you need is one run.”
“I was like we have no outs, I’m on first base and if we can get me around this could be it. Paige put down a really nice bunt, Sarah came up and had a stellar hit and it’s awesome that we could all do that as a team,” said Shafranski.
Early on in the game, it appeared that Pacelli would need more than just one run to beat the high-powered Oaks. Oakfield had at least one runner on in every inning, but Pacelli was able to find a way to negate the threat and keep the game tied. The collective blood pressure of the fans in attendance must have been skyrocketing.
In the second inning the bases were loaded with one out before Pacelli’s Kaylee Krostag was able to get Hannah Flury to pop out to the catcher and then rung up Brianna Sabel looking.
In both the third and fourth innings the Cardinals were able to double off Oakfield at first, but the play in the fourth was far more important. The Oaks had bases loaded with no outs when Samantha Wettstein lined a sharp ball at the short stop who caught it and smartly gunned it back to first for the double play. Flury popped out to the infield for out number three and the Cardinals escaped yet again.
“Our defense works hard so Kaylee knows she can do what she has to do. She knows her defense was there and that’s what happened today. It was awesome,” said coach Molski.
“I am so proud of Kaylee,” said Shafranski. “She has put in so much work and she has gotten so much confidence. She trusts her defense, she lets us make plays but she also makes plays. She can do the job in the circle, she’s amazing.”
After the Cardinals got the lead, Oakfield didn’t lay down and admit defeat. They gave Pacelli every reason to think that it was going to go into extra innings. In the second at-bat of the inning Brianna Sabel tripled off the centerfield wall to put the Oaks one swing, error or wild pitch away from tying the game. However, Krostag would not be denied as she popped-up the next two batters to bring the trophy home.
State titles carry with them a feel of great joy and that was evident on the faces of every Cardinal player and faithful.
“It’s incredible, it’s been so much fun. It’s been a day full of happiness,” said Shafranski. “I am just so proud of the work everyone has put in this year.”
The pride that Coach Molski has in her team was visible as she was saying her piece after the victory.
“Our shirts say one team, and they truly believe we are one group. They just know how to be a team and I just can’t say enough about the definition of a true team; a true team is this little group.”
Krostag was the rock for her squad in the final game of her career. She went all seven innings, allowed eight hits to go along with two walks and one K.
It wasn’t an offensive onslaught, but Pacelli was able to do enough to win. They were led by Taylor Raflik who went 2 – 2, Shafranski recorded a 1 – 3 performance and Mitch also went 1 – 3 with the only RBI of the game.
With the win Pacelli earns their first State title since 2012 when they were in Division 3. They finish the season at 24 – 5 overall and as Division 4 champions.
WP: Krostag LP: Ryan
2B: (Oakfield): A. Sabel
3B: (Oakfield): B. Sabel