By Murray Gleffe
ASHWAUBENON — If Pulaski softball pitcher Morgan Vertz was nervous, she didn’t appear to show it in her team’s Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) opener May 4 vs. Ashwaubenon.
The freshman helped lead the Red Raiders to a 7-1 victory at Pioneer Park.
Vertz pitched seven complete innings, giving up four hits and one run.
“I thought (Mo) threw well early on,” said Billi Jo Vertz, Pulaski head coach. “She held great stamina through the first five innings and then got a bit tired.”
The Red Raiders (3-1 overall) got off to a hot start.
Brynn Egnarski had a lead-off walk, and two stolen bases landed her at third.
Ashlyn Szymanski followed with a double to left to score Egnarski for a 1-0 lead.
Peighton Agamaite followed with a rip to the outfield to bring Szymanski home for a two-run advantage after the top half of the first inning.
“It’s nice to get a lead because it takes the pressure off a bit,” said Vertz. “Action early is good, especially when your pitcher is keeping the opponent away from the hitting column.”
Szymanski added a run in the top of the third, and the Red Raiders continued their torrid hitting in the fifth.
With two outs and a 2-2 count, Gabrielle DeCleene ripped a double to keep the inning alive.
Olivia Kubiak followed with a single and a stolen base to put two runners in scoring position.
Skyler Lukasik got into the action by notching two RBI with a blast up the middle for a 5-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Lukasik turned offense into defense by corralling a ground ball, touching the base runner as she ran by and making the subsequent throw to first base to record a double play.
Vertz continued her stellar play by garnering a pop-out to end the inning.
“Skyler had the magic tonight,” Vertz said. “She was quick on her feet and got gritty in the infield. She has lots of finesse and savvy to make plays for us.”
Later, with no hits through five innings, the Jaguars finally got their bats going.
Madyson Rothe and Elle Justman both singled to right field.
An apparent strikeout to end the inning by Vertz turned into a Jaguars’ score when the catcher couldn’t hold onto the ball.
Rothe scored after the errant throw to first base hit baserunner Jamira Olson in the back.
“We made some good adjustments the second and third time through (the lineup),” said Shannon VanLaanen, Ashwaubenon head coach. “We got more aggressive with our swings.”
However, after Morgan Jarvi walked to load the bases, the Jaguars couldn’t add any more runs to close the gap.
Pulaski put the game away in the seventh after DeCleene and Kubiak both came across the plate for the final margin.
“We know we can’t take any inning for granted in this short season,” Vertz said. “We want to play clean defense, make timely hits and have fun while we’re out on the field. It’s a game and a process to get better.”
Pulaski: 201 020 2 — 7
Ashwaubenon: 000 001 0 — 1