By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – A hot start and strong pitching helped lead the No. 3-seeded Green Bay Preble softball team to a convincing 11-1 victory over No. 6 Pulaski May 26 in a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 regional final game at the Finger Road Softball Complex.
The Hornets scored five times in the first inning and added four more in the third to put the game away early.
Preble pitchers Brooke Hock and Katie Geydoshek combined limited the Red Raiders to a pair of hits and struck out eight in the five-inning game.
Oregon State verbal commit Ashley Wolfe had three hits for the Hornets, while Ava DeBaker also had three.
Freshman Sam Foytik added a pair of hits for Preble.
“We were pleased with our start,” Preble Head Coach Ron Metzler said. “We put the ball in play, so you have to give us credit for that. We had a couple (of hits) dump in, and then Pulaski had some errors. It was part us and part them.”
The Hornets advanced to take on No. 2-seeded Hortonville, the No. 5-ranked Division 1 team in the state, Tuesday, May 31, in a sectional semifinal game.
“Hortonville is a phenomenal team with unbelievable pitching,” Metzler said. “When a team has that good of pitching, we hope it’s a tight game. We’re probably not going to score 10 runs against them – you hope nobody scores 10 runs.”
Preble will have to face Hortonville pitcher Hannah Meshnick, a Division I commit to Illinois State.
Metzler said his team is looking forward to the challenge.
“We’ve been here before, and these kids have been here before,” he said. “Last season, we played in a sectional final. (Tuesday’s) game will feel like a sectional final because Hortonville is so good.”
Metzler said Preble’s sectional bracket could be the toughest in the state.
“The depth of our sectional is top-notch,” he said. “I’m not saying our sectional is better than everybody else’s, but I believe we have absolutely a tougher sectional than most of the others.”
Wolfe nailed the first pitch she saw in the bottom of the first inning from Pulaski pitcher Morgan Vertz for a single and then advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Nine batters later, Wolfe ended the inning with a groundout.
In between, DeBaker and Mel Siudzinski had hits, including a two-RBI single from Siudzinski.
In all, 10 batters came to the plate in the marathon inning.
The Hornets were also aided by two Pulaski errors and two walks.
In the third inning, Preble got RBI hits from DeBaker and Foytik.
“I pretty much just throw my bat through the hitting zone at the ball,” Foytik said. “I let the bat do the work. We are a close team – that helps us play loose.”
Wolfe had an RBI single in the fifth inning before the final run of the game scored on a Pulaski error.