Jaguars softball season comes to an end in the sectional semis
By Murray Gleffe
GREEN BAY-The Ashwaubenon Jaguars softball season came to an abrupt end Tuesday afternoon at the hands of the Green Bay Preble Hornets by a final of 4-1. (May 29)
Brittany Baneck pitched a complete game giving up five hits and allowing only one run.
Both teams entered the contest with over 20 wins on the season and only one would have the right to play Appleton North on Thursday to go to State.
After the Jaguars went three and out in the top of the first, outfielder Josie Hilbert made a lunging catch on Baneck’s shot from the plate. It preserved a multiple bases hit, and Katelynn Cleveland went onto retire the side to end the inning.
After a scoreless second, the Jaguars had a golden opportunity in the top of the third to put up the first run of the game.
Hilbert started the festivities with a lead-off walk and advanced to second after a wild throw by the Hornets catcher.
First basemen Anna Wendorf laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to advance Hilbert to third.
Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the Hornets made a great defensive play and caught the visitors in a run down as Tatum Scheffel was up to bat.
The subsequent tag on Hilbert kept the game scoreless through two and a half innings.
“I wanted to be ultra-aggressive and try to put a run up first versus Preble,” said Jaguars Softball Coach, Shannon VanLaanen. “We got caught up in a tough position and got tagged out near home.”
The Hornets took advantage of the Jaguars missed opportunity and struck in the bottom of the third.
After a pop out to start, Lydia Foytik hit a chopper that was temporarily mishandled and she safely crossed first base.
After a steal to set up her up at second, and subsequent walk by Katie Kugel, Sophomore Keegan Piton stepped to the plate and delivered the games first run by blasting a missile between first and second.
It scored Foytik and the Hornets took an early one run lead.
Cleveland got out of the inning minutes later.
The next couple of innings neither team could generate any momentum.
However, the fireworks were just beginning for both squads.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Hilbert kept in the count for the Jaguars after numerous fall tip balls. She finally made contact off of Baneck and put a shot into left field with her southpaw motion.
Wendorf followed with a lefty blast of her own over the second base bag.
Then a bit of controversy ensued.
As Scheffel was hitting the ball, Wendorf and the third basemen for the Hornets collided.
What looked like a potential hit for Scheffel turned into the lead umpire calling Wendorf for base interference automatically ending the inning for the Jaguars.
With the score still 1-0 in favor of the Hornets, the Jaguars finally answered the call in the top of the sixth.
With two outs, and the Jaguars looking for any good fortune, some came in the form of a walk by Alexa Blasczyk.
Cleveland then stepped up and hit a shot that was misplayed.
Suddenly, base runners stood on first and second and Kally Van Laanen was not about to disappoint the over 500 in attendance at Finger Road Softball Complex on the northeast side of Green Bay.
On a 1-1 count, VanLaanen took a high fast ball and corked a shot that hit the absolute top of the fence without going over.
Blasczyk scored and Caitlin Morris (pinch running for Cleveland) advanced to third.
“I was really happy with the sequence in the sixth to even the game up,” added VanLaanen. “We had a great hitter up next and I felt like if we took a one-run lead late, things might have changed.”
No further runs could be scored by the Jaguars and the 1-1 deadlock was carried over to the bottom of the sixth.
The outcome of this game between two outstanding softball programs was decided in this half inning.
After an incredible stretch-out catch by Peyton Wright to rob Kennedy Kingston of a hit, Evelyn Hoge singled.
With two outs, and Hoge on second, Camryn Baenen garnered the first RBI by hitting a shot to deep center. That was followed by back to back singles by Foytik and Kugel to bring in two more runs for the Hornets.
The game had taken a precipitous turn.
When the dust had settled, the home squad had taken a 4-1 lead and the Jaguars bats couldn’t muster anything in the top of the seventh, ending their season.
The Jaguars finish their 2017-18 campaign with a 23-6 mark.
“It’s tough right now to swallow,” expressed VanLaanen. “We had a tremendous season with a mixture of ninth through twelfth graders. I hurt for my five seniors. Our JV squad won over 20 games as well and they will have to build the next foundation that this current group provided for the program.”
Ashwaubenon 0,0,0,0,0,1,0 1
Green Bay Preble 0,0,1,0,0,3,- 4