By Murray Gleffe
ASHWAUBENON — There was a key ingredient missing in the Ashwaubenon softball dugout Monday, June 14 – head coach Shannon VanLaanen.
VanLaanen, who led the Jaguars to a 2019 Fox River Classic Conference championship, was not available due to illness.
Playing inspired softball, No. 4-seeded Ashwaubenon defeated No. 5 De Pere 10-1 in a WIAA Division 1 regional game at Pioneer Park.
Nyia Marohl pitched four innings, giving up one run for the Jaguars.
Olivia Zabel garnered the save in her three innings of work, surrendering no runs and striking out two.
“Nyia controlled the game until we could put some runs on the board,” Jay Marcks, Ashwaubenon assistant coach, said. “The first inning was key. De Pere has a couple of big hitters, and she shut them down. We’ve used two pitchers throughout the course of the year and didn’t detract from it again today.”
Ashwaubenon got started with its defense.
In the top of the second inning, with one out, Megan Behnke hit a liner to right for the Redbirds.
Second basemen Korrin VanLaanen made the catch and threw Ngan Ho out to end the inning.
“The play Korrin made was amazing,” Marcks said. “She dove to make the play and then had the knowledge to make the throw back.”
In the bottom half of the inning, Liz Cleveland hit a blast to the center-field fence, which scored two runs.
As the wind shifted out, Zabel and Brynn Bauer connected on back-to-back doubles, with Zabel coming home for a 3-0 lead.
Madyson Rothe then singled to right to give Ashwaubenon a 4-0 lead.
“We had lots of quality at-bats in the second inning.,” Marcks said. “We had lots of girls make plays for us.”
Marohl kept De Pere guessing on a multitude of pitches and staying ahead in the count.
“De Pere is a good team,” Marohl said. “We had to keep our focus on each batter and take one out at a time.”
In the bottom of the third, the Jaguars added three more runs on six hits to go up 7-0.
During the inning, starting Redbirds’ pitcher Jessica Lamirande was pulled in favor of reliever Grace Baugnet.
In the top half of the fourth, De Pere built some momentum when Grace Baugnet singled in Olivia Baugnet.
Ashwaubenon added two additional runs in the fourth and one in the fifth for the final margin.
“The win meant everything for Shannon,” Marcks said. “He has done a phenomenal job directing this program. We got together before the game and said, ‘We are all in this together.’”
Ashwaubenon advanced to take on No. 1 Green Bay Preble (24-1) June 16 at the Finger Road Softball Complex.
The Hornets’ only loss on the season was a 5-3 setback to Stevens Point.
“Obviously, Preble will be heavily favored,” Marcks said. “We go into every game thinking it’s going to take our A+ game to beat somebody.”
De Pere: 000 100 0 — 1
Ashwaubenon: 043 210 x — 10