Redbirds late game heroics lift them over Hornets
By Murray Gleffe
DE PERE – Megan Behnke knew she had one chance to make it count.
With the bases loaded and the score tied at five in the bottom of the seventh, Behnke connected on the game-winning single that lifted De Pere to a dramatic 6-5 victory over Green Bay Preble in an FRCC softball game April 9 at De Pere High School.
“Incredible softball game,” said De Pere head coach Matt Eakin. “This is our third comeback of the year, and none are bigger than this obviously. I’m so proud of the girl’s resiliency – not once but twice fighting back from deficits in the game.”
Both teams combined for 19 hits.
McKayleigh Piper received the win for the Redbirds, giving up five runs in seven innings.
Alley Eden took the loss, pitching seven innings and giving up six runs in a complete game.
“We knew with the amount of good hitting going on in the game, it was going to be a contest that was going to come down to the last inning,” said Green Bay Preble head coach Ron Metzler. “They made some key plays in that last half inning, and we came up just short.”
No one struck on the scoreboard in the first three innings despite De Pere outhitting Preble by a wide margin to open the game but left all stranded on base.
The Hornets struck first in the top of the fourth after Keegan Piton opened up with a lead-off single and later scored in the inning to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
With hits continuing to come for the Redbirds, they finally evened the game in the bottom of the fifth after Rachel Kerkhoff came around the bases.
“I knew we were seeing the ball well off our bats, but the scoreboard didn’t reflect that through the first four or five innings,” Eakin said. “We had to remain patient and knew our time was coming.”
The final two innings provided a flair for the dramatic from both teams.
After Eleanor Hoge singled and Eden walked, Claire Price hit a ripping double down the right-field line for the Hornets to score two for a 3-1.
Preble added another after Sam Wendt scored from third after Mel Siudzinski singled.
Trailing 4-1 entering the bottom half of the inning, the Redbirds didn’t panic.
Natalie Cerrato singled, Brianna Patz was hit by a pitch and Behnke walked before Kerkhoff drove home two runs with a shot to center field to cut the margin to 4-3.
The Hornets added a run in their last at-bat to take a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
De Pere’s Piper then stepped into the batter’s box and ripped a 220-foot, lead-off homer over the right-field fence into a brisk wind to cut the deficit to 5-4.
“The shot by Piper was huge to get us going in the final inning,” Eakin added. “The girls took it from there and brought it home.”
Things got even more precarious for the Hornets after three straight walks and a hit-by-pitch brought home the tying run.
Behnke then provided the final punch to give Matt Eakin his first victory as a head coach over Preble.
“We did what we had to do,” said Behnke. “We were down and knew we needed a big couple of last innings. It was a huge accomplishment to beat such a good program in Preble. It just feels really good right now for me and my teammates.”
Green Bay Preble: 000 103 1 – 5
De Pere: 000 012 3 – 6