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Phantoms softball advances to sectional final; one step away from state

By Murray Gleffe

DE PERE – Sometimes all it takes is one good inning to win a game.

That was the case May 28 when the West De Pere softball team struck for three runs in the bottom of the fifth to defeat Kimberly 3-0 in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal game played on the campus of St. Norbert College.

The No. 5-seeded Phantoms will play No. 3 Pulaski in an all-area sectional final May 30 in Kimberly for a state berth.

The winner will advance to the state tournament at the Goodman Softball Complex in Madison.

“Hannah [Bearson] got us going today in the middle part of the game,” said West De Pere head coach Tom Zimdars. “Then Anna [Young] and Genesis [Eggart] followed her up with clutch plays. Genesis got the two RBI, but she was smoking on the mound as well. She had 12 strikeouts today, but she also came to hit.”

West De Pere pitcher No. 8 Genesis Eggart got the shutout victory on the mound. Photo by Murray Gleffe

After a scoreless opening inning, the Phantoms had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the second.

Brianna Destache singled to center and then Rebekah Buboltz reached first base after an errant throw by the Kimberly shortstop.

Evie Larson-Van Egeren walked, and suddenly, the bases were loaded.

The Papermakers then made a tactical move by bringing in reliever Morgan Stevenson for starting pitcher Lauren Leitner.

It worked.

Stevenson struck out Stary, got Destache at home plate, and ended the inning by catching Alexa Thomson with a slider to keep the game scoreless through two innings.

Meanwhile, Kimberly managed just one hit in the following innings, as neither team could scratch out a run.

That all changed in the bottom of the fifth.

After an opening pop-out, Bearson got the bats going for the Phantoms by singling to center.

“I just try and take a couple deep breaths and keep a level head,” said Bearson. “Usually with us, singles and hits come in bunches, and I was just glad to get things going for our team. That inning gave us a big lift moving forward.”

Young then singled off a check-swing down the first base line.

Eggart then stepped in, and on a 3-2 count, laced a double to right field that brought home Bearson and Young to give West De Pere a 2-0 lead.

They weren’t finished quite yet.

Destache connected on a double to right field after the Kimberly outfielder misplayed the ball in the sun, and Noelle Vogels (who was pinch running for Eggart) came home standing up to give the Phantoms a 3-0 lead.

No more runs would be added, but the damage had been done.

Phantoms No. 7 Taylor Degroot connects on a pitch. Photo by Murray Gleffe

Kimberly put two runners on base in its last two at bats, but nobody could score as Eggart preserved the shutout.

“You get such a clean ball off this surface,” added Zimdars. “Our field wasn’t ready at the middle school and our fans adjusted and came out in huge numbers to support us. Very excited for this group to be moving on. We’ll be ready for whomever we see this weekend.”

Box score

Kimberly: 000 000 0—0
West De Pere: 000 030 x—3

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