Ashwaubenon sweeps Bay Port in softball doubleheader
By Rich Palzewic
ASHWAUBENON – Coming into an April 28 softball doubleheader at Pioneer Park, Bay Port was a perfect 11-0 and ranked No. 10 in the state in Division 1, while Ashwaubenon was 4-4.
Records didn’t matter in the Jaguars’ Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) sweep of the Pirates.
Ashwaubenon won game one 4-2 and held on in game two, 6-4.
Game one was a continuation of an earlier season game which was halted because of rain.
In game two, the Jaguars scored two runs in the second and third innings and pushed across single runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Bay Port scored two runs in the fourth inning and one in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the top of the second inning, after Nyia Marohl and Liz Cleveland led off with singles, Sophia Zabel had an RBI groundout before Elly Kirst had an RBI single to make it 2-0 Ashwaubenon.
In the third inning, Marohl launched a two-run homer off the scoreboard on the first pitch she saw from Bay Port pitcher Brooklyn VanGrunsven to knock in Morgan Jarvi, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.
The home run, Marohl’s first of the season and second career, made it 4-0.
“I used to be a pitcher, so I know the (opposing) pitcher wants to get a strike on the first pitch,” Marohl, who was 3-for-4 at the plate, said. “We were on today. We came in thinking we could sweep – we were determined.”
In the fourth inning, Kirst, who had reached on a one-out double, scored on an RBI single from Maddie Eliason to make it 5-0.
The Pirates got RBI hits from Brynn Dahlke and MaKayla Spejcher in the bottom of the fourth inning to close the gap to 5-2.
Zabel had another RBI in the fifth –this time on a single to make it 6-2.
Callie Dickie had an RBI groundout in the fifth to close the advantage to 6-3.
Things got interesting for Bay Port in the sixth inning.
With the bases loaded and one out, Maggie Luedtke hit a short flair to left that dropped in, scoring Brooklyn Rau to make it 6-4.
On the play, a Pirates’ baserunner on second base got confused and didn’t advance to third.
In the meantime, Ashwaubenon left fielder Elle Justman fired the ball toward the plate and pitcher Berritt Herr cut the ball off and threw it to third base to force the runner for the second out.
With runners still on first and second, Herr struck out Alexis Watson to end the threat.
“I’m excited to see what we can do the rest of the season,” Herr, a freshman, said. “Hopefully, we can make a good run and continue with our good defense, hitting and pitching.”
Olivia Zabel started on the mound for the Jaguars and went 3 2/3 innings and gave up seven hits, two runs and struck out two.
“It felt good to beat (Bay Port), especially coming back from a couple of tough losses,” Zabel said. “It boosted our confidence. We were able to get hits and runs and good pitching.”
Zabel said she throws in the upper 50s, while Herr, who said she and Zabel get along well, throws in the lower 60s.
“We have fun together, and I’ve learned lots from Olivia,” Herr said. “We have an amazing group of seniors on this team.”
Ashwaubenon Head Coach Shannon VanLaanen said his team’s recent play shows how tough the FRCC is.
In an April 23 game against De Pere, the Jaguars lost 5-0.
Two days later, the Pirates beat the Redbirds 12-2 in five innings.
“Everybody always says you can beat anyone on any given day, but our up-and-down play recently proves that,” VanLaanen said. “When you’re in a strong conference, that’s what happens. Bay Port has a strong team and hits well. I give lots of credit to our pitching and defense for slowing them down.”
Bay Port pounded out 12 hits, with Watson going 3-for-4, while Emma Krueger, Dahlke and Spejcher each had two hits.
VanLaanen said he has the luxury of power and experience on the mound with Herr and Zabel, respectively.
“Olivia has the experience and has done a great job from a leadership standpoint,” he said. “She’s had great stuff the last two games. Berritt is more of a power pitcher, but she’s learning more as the season goes on. They both love softball.”