Eden hits and pitches, helps Preble to victory
By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Most area high school softball fans know Green Bay Preble senior Ally Eden is one of the best pitchers in the state, but most might not realize she can handle the bat pretty well, too.
Eden drove in three runs, had a pair of doubles and added a single in the Hornets’ 9-2 victory over Pulaski June 21 in a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 sectional semifinal game at the Finger Road Softball Complex in Green Bay.
“I do work on my hitting lots,” Eden said. “I’d say it’s about half and half. After I’m done with a pitching workout, I’ll hit a couple of buckets of balls, too. I enjoy it.”
Eden was also her typical self on the mound in holding the Red Raiders to seven hits while striking out seven.
Preble head coach Ron Metzler said the secret is out on Eden’s strong hitting.
“Don’t say it too loud, but Ally is a phenomenal hitter as well,” he said. “She’s hitting way above .500. Her growth from her freshman year to now at the plate has been noticeable. Most pitchers only work on their craft, but she works hard in both areas.”
Eden, the Fox River Classic Conference Player of the Year, drove in Brooke Hock with a double in the third inning to put the Hornets up 3-0.
Two batters earlier, Hock drove in two with a double, scoring Ava DeBaker and Ashley Wolfe, who both reached base on singles.
“This was a good win for us,” Eden said, whose team will face Kaukauna Wednesday, June 23, at Pioneer Park (3:30 p.m.) in Ashwaubenon for the right to go to the state tournament. “Pulaski is always a tough team with good hitters.”
Preble added three more runs in the fourth to make it 6-1.
Ariene Kollman legged out a triple with one out before Gretchen Meier walked and DeBaker drove in Kollman with a fielder’s choice.
Wolfe – who had three hits on the night – then singled to put runners on second and third.
Hock then hit a screamer that went under the glove off Pulaski’s third baseman, scoring DeBaker and Wolfe.
The Hornets added a single tally in the fifth on a Madi Whitney RBI double and two more in the sixth on Eden’s two-RBI double.
The Red Raiders had a chance to take a 1-0 lead in the first, but a wild sequence prevented them from scoring.
With two outs, Gabrielle DeCleene hit a double before Meghan Molthen hit a hot grounder up the middle that Wolfe dove for and got a glove on.
The ball deflected to second baseman Melody Siudzinski, who then fired a strike to Hock at third.
By this time, DeCleene was heading for home.
Hock’s throw home to catcher Madi Whitney nailed the sliding DeCleene for the third out.
“That was a key play early in the game,” Metzler said. “I’ve played against Pulaski and (head coach Billi Jo Vertz) for 11 years. They always have great pitching and are well-coached. They never give up. Our team took that to heart. It was tense at the beginning.”
Pulaski put up single tallies in the fourth and sixth innings but also had its chance for more end in the third on a double play.
Peyton Agamaite, DeCleene (three hits), Morgan Vertz and Ashlyn Szymanski (triple) recorded hits for the Red Raiders.
Vertz went all six innings on the mound for Pulaski, giving up 10 hits and striking out a pair.
Preble advanced to take on No. 5 state-ranked Kaukauna, but Metzler said his No. 2-ranked team is ready.
“At this point, every team is good,” he said. “The strength of our team is our consistent pitching and all-around hitting – that hasn’t changed. We are deep in all areas. We hit through the lineup.”