By Tim “Shoe” Sullivan
October 13, 2016 was a night to remember at the Iverson Park ball diamond in Stevens Point.
Three softball games were played in the Portage County Women’s Softball League, and that was just the icing on the cake. League founder and commissioner Erin Laffe chose Thursday night to promote breast cancer awareness, and pink shirts were flying off the shelves as a large crowd showed up to support the cause, which she dubbed “Save Second Base.”
For an added touch, Ms. Laffe also invited area veterans, law enforcement and fire department personnel to attend the games and be honored by the league players. The league’s national anthem program was, in a word, awesome.
Festivities were scheduled to begin at 6:30. The players representing all five teams respectfully lined up along the baselines to honor the flag, and the American Legion Post 6 Honor Guard stood at attention for about a half hour as the festivities unfolded.
From 6 PM on, cars, vets, law enforcement, squad cars, ambulances and fire trucks poured into the Iverson Park parking lot.
“That sight just blew me away,” Laffe said “They were coming in one right after the other. The weather was very chilly, but that didn’t stop anybody. It was our league’s finest hour.”
All the honorees aligned along the infield and pitcher’s mound as the amazing honor guard marched in formation, and then everyone in the ballpark was treated to an outstanding rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as Pacelli alumnus Emily Horgan and her sister Ally of Pacelli sang their hearts out from the freezing press-box.
Following the anthem, all of the players mingled with the honorees and gave them hugs for a good 10 minutes. And then, it was on with the games.
The league used four umpires (Jesse Higgins, Allan Higgins (a firefighter), Corey Blake, and Marcus Flowerette, and Bobby Sullivan (firefighter and EMT) and Drew Lemke worked the scoreboard.
In the first game of the triple-header, Graffiti’s (4-0) downed Post Road Pub (0-7) 20-0 as Kristen Felts tossed a three-hitter. Kristen actually set some kind of a league record by pitching in all three games. The Rough Rookies borrowed her for game number two.
The first game was called by the 20-run rule after PRP batted in the fourth. Post Road Pub’s three hits were singles by Laura Waltenberg, Alishea Johnson, and Jean Higdon.
Graffiti’s came up with seven runs right off the bat in the first on singles by Krystin Eckes, Kristen Felts, Mak Lee, Kara Sleeter,and Dana Krug, and Cheyenne Hahn doubled and Chelsey Vidal tripled during the rally. The winners scored five more runs in their half of the second.
The highlight was a long, long booming three-run homer to left by shortstop Mak Lee.
BATTING STATS FOR GRAFFITI’S: Krystin Eckes: single, double; Cheyenne Hahn: double, single, triple; Kristen Felts: two singles, double, first of three pitching wins on the night; Mak Lee: two singles, three-run homer in second; Hailee Fuller: two singles, sac. fly; Liz Morrison: walk, single; Kara Sleeter: two singles; Kayla Keepers: two singles, double; Dana Krug: three singles, walk; Chelsey Vidal: triple, single.
POST ROAD PUB BATTING STATS: three singles, one walk; did a great job helping promote the breast cancer awareness night.
The second game was a beauty as both teams came out swinging. Rough Rookie’s (3-3) beat Team Biadasz (2-4) 14-9.
The Rookies had 17 hits including three doubles and four walks. Their big innings were the fifth and sixth as they scored a combined nine runs in those two frames. Andrea Stroik and Katie Houston each singled twice during the rally and Courtney Erdman doubled.
Four errors by the losers didn’t help Team Biadasz’s cause. Actually, Team Biadasz outhit the Rookies 19-17, but all 19 of their hits were singles which set another league record. The fifth and sixth innings were also kind to Team Biadasz as they picked up five runs during that stage.
The big hits were singles by Miranda Yoose, Amber Hintz, Michelle Zick, Linnea Burke, Ashlynn Plaski, and Meg Lee. The Rookies were also helped by four walks and three doubles by Taylor Biermeier, Andrea Stroik, and Courtney Erdman.
TEAM BIADASZ BATTING STATS: Niccole Plaski: two singles, walk; Julie Peskie: two singles; Ashlynn Plaski: single, run; Meg Lee: three singles; Miranda Yoose: two singles, walk; Britt Mae: single, run; Amber Hintz: single, two runs; Michelle Zick: two singles, three runs; Linnea Burke: three singles; Melissa Dombrowski: two singles, great catch in left which got the cowbells ringing.
ROUGH ROOKIES BATTING STATS: Taylor Biermeier: three singles, double; Kristen Felts: two singles; Andrea Stroik: three singles, double, three runs; Stacey Zarecki: three singles; Katie Houston: two singles, walk; Alaina Rustad: two singles, walk; Courtney Erdman: double; Kaitlyn Knutson: walk; Christine Lutzke: walk; Cheyenne Zabawa: run scored.
The third game of the chilly night was the battle of the unbeatens as Graffiti’s (5-0) nipped Rookie’s Royals (5-1) 8-6 in a defensive clinic.
Graffiti’s outfielder Hailee Fuller made five fine catches of fly-balls and Krystin Eckes and Mak Lee made several forceout plays at second.
The Royals went ahead 1-0 in the second as Beke Blue scored the game’s first run following singles by Amy Kurszewski and Korryn Dean. Graffiti’s tied it at 1-1 in the third when Chelsey Vidal singled and scored after Cheyenne Hahn and Hailee Fuller both singled. Then Rookie’s Royals went ahead 3-1 in the fourth as Korryn Dean tripled to right to drive in Amy Kurszewski and then scored on a single by leftfielder Kara Kurszewski.
But Graffiti’s came right back with three runs to go ahead, 4-3. Their rally included singles by Dana Krug and Cheyenne Hahn and doubles by Chelsey Vidal and Krystin Eckes. Then back ahead went the Royals as two more runs made it 5-4. Singles by Jenna Lewandowski, Beke Blue, Amy Kurszewski, and Becky Kurszewski accounted for the runs.
Rookie’s lead didn’t last long as Graffiti’s scored three more to take the lead back, 7-5 after five. The key hits were singles by Hailee Fuller, Kara Sleeter, Dana Krug, and Chelsey Vidal.
Rookie’s got their final run in the top of the sixth on base hits by Samantha Zommers, Nicole Kirsch, and Jenna Lewandowski. 7-6 Graffiti’s. The winners pushed across an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth thanks to doubles by Cheyenne Hahn and Hailee Fuller. 8-6 was your final as Graffiti’s remained undefeated.
ROOKIE’S ROYALS BATTING STATS: Katie Steinbach: two singles; Samantha Zommers: two singles, walk; Nicole Kirsch: two singles; Jenna Lewandowski: two singles; Beke Blue: single, two runs; Amy Kurszewski: two singles; Becky Kurszewski: single; Korryn Dean: two singles, triple; Kara Kurszewski: single.
GRAFFITI’S BATTING STATS: Krystin Eckes: single, double; Cheyenne Hahn: two singles, double; Kristen Felts: winning pitcher; Mak Lee: single; Hailee Fuller: two singles, double; Liz Morrison: two walks (good eye); Kara Sleeter: single; Kayla Keepers: sac. fly; Dana Krug: two singles; Chelsey Vidal: two singles, double. NOTE: At press time, we didn’t have all the results of the 50-50 drawing and numerous drawings. However, umpire Jesse Higgins arrived wearing a T-shirt which said “I ♥ cookies” and left wearing someone’s fire department jacket.
LEAGUE RECORDS: Graffiti’s: 5-0. Rookies Royals: 5-1. Rough Rookies: 3-3. Team Biadasz: 2-4. Post Road Pub: 0-7.