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Pulaski’s Vertz is double threat in conference win

Pulaski’s Alina Wolfe dives for a ball in the second inning. Rich Palzewic photo

By Rich Palzewic

Contributing Writer

SUAMICO – Pulaski softball player Morgan Vertz was double trouble on April 11 versus Bay Port.

The junior right-hander struck out 14 Pirates and hit a two-run homer in the Red Raiders’ 5-1 Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) victory at Bay Port High School.

With temperatures in the upper 70s and a stiff wind blowing out to left field, Vertz cooled off the Bay Porthitters.

The Northern Iowa verbal commit struck out at least one batter in every inning on her way to the complete-game effort.

“From the start, I felt like I was humming and throwing hard,” Vertz, who didn’t walk a batter, said. “The outside pitch was off and on, but I was working with what I had.”

Pulaski’s Morgan Vertz was a double threat when she struck out 14 and added a two-run homer. Rich Palzewic photo

Additionally, Bay Port’s top three batters in the lineup went a combined 0-for-10 with eight strikeouts.

“I play with a lot of those girls throughout the summer,” Vertz said. “I know they are good hitters.”

Pulaski (1-1 overall, 1-1 FRCC) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second after Cassie Benberg singled to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch and was knocked home by a Nicole Berna RBI single.

The Pirates (3-2, 1-1)tied it in the bottom of the frame when Paige Johnson’s RBI triple down the right-field line scored Hannah Baranczyk, who had reached base a batter earlier on a one-out single.

The Red Raiders gave themselves some breathing room in the third – thanks in large part to Vertz.

After a strikeout by Bay Port pitcher Estelle Finlan to lead off the inning, Molly Molthen hit a double.

Molthen advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a passed ball to make it 2-1.

Hailey Wiedeman then walked before Vertz launched a high fly ball to left center that got caught in the jet stream and left the park.

“I’m not even sure what the pitch was,” Vertz laughed. “I half swung, and I was like, ‘Oh boy, that might go over or it’s going to stop right at the fence.’”

Molthen scored the final run of the game in the fifth for Pulaski.

“I think Morgan did a good job of staying in the moment tonight,” Pulaski coach Billi Vertz said. “I also think we attacked early as a team – we’ve been working on that. So far this season, our bunt execution has also been better.”

Bay Port’s Finlan was the hard-luck loser.

The sophomore allowed only five hits and struck out six.

“We can’t have 14 strikeouts, with eight of them looking and expect to win games,” Bay Port assistant coach, Ryan Francour said. “Our defense played well, and our pitching was great, but we have to do a better job of hunting first-strike fastballs and put the ball in play.”

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