In a softball game that saw both teams combine for 19 hits and 11 walks, it was a ball hit about five feet in front of the plate that gave New Berlin West a thrilling 9-8 win over New Berlin Eisenhower on May 14 at West.
The scored was tied 8-8, and the bases were loaded with one out in the bottom of the seventh. West cleanup hitter Hannah Just pounded a pitch from Steffi Lombardo into the dirt to the right of home plate.
Ike first baseman Lexi Prei raced in and flipped the ball to catcher Ali Nowak, but the speedy Mallory Klotz, who was on third, beat the throw to score the winning run.
"She was probably the only player on our team who could score on that," said West coach Greg Klotz. "She read it beautifully and came in. She knew it would be tough, but she has been at third enough to read it and score."
It was a crazy ending to a crazy game.
Eisenhower's Katie Schlegel and West's Karissa Harenda were locked in a scoreless pitcher's duel through four innings when the rain came. Both teams then combined for 17 runs in the last three innings.
The coaches had different ideas on how the rain and cold affect the pitchers.
"Cold is one thing, and rain is another, but when you combine them, it's tough on the pitchers," said veteran Ike coach Jeff Setz. "Their pitcher struggled too, but our girls were not there tonight. It must have been the weather, because we haven't had that many walks all year long."
Klotz talked about the mental part of the game.
"I don't know if the weather will affect a pitcher in a game like this," he said. "It's all about the mental game. We saw three really good pitchers today. They've pitched in games like this before. We kept the balls dry. The umpire gave us time to do that."
Ike jumped on Harenda for five runs in the fifth on a two-run homer by Anthie Katris, her first of the year, and a three-run shot by Riley Rossbach, her third of the year, according to Setz.
But the Vikings came back and took the lead for the first time, scoring six runs in the bottom of the inning. Schlegel allowed a single to Mal Klotz to lead off the inning and suddenly couldn't find the strike zone, walking seven and hitting a batter.
"Katie Schlegel is a tough pitcher," coach Klotz said. "She had one really rough inning. We capitalized on it and came up with the six runs. Whether it's weather-related, I don't know."
But the Lions came back to take the lead with a three-run third. Lombardo's sacrifice fly tied the game, and Nowak ripped a two-run single to left to take an 8-6 lead.
The score stayed that way into the bottom of the seventh, as Lombardo replaced Schlegel in the fifth and slammed the door.
Leah Marrari walked and went to second on a wild pitch. After a strikeout, Erin Arnas singled to center, moving Marrari to third, and Mal Klotz walked to load the bases.
Buth and Nealon had back-to-back singles to center to tie the game, and then Just's slow roller scored Mal Klotz with the game winner.
Buth and Nealon combined for six hits, two runs and three RBIs, and coach Klotz praised their efforts.
"Our 2-3 hitters, Hannah Buth and Kailey Nealon, were on fire," coach Klotz said. "When they have respect for our leadoff hitter (Mal Klotz), and they walk her a couple times, those are the at bats we need out of our 2-3 hitters.
When Just came up, she smashed a ball that looked like a homer but went foul.
"She hit a fly ball 190 feet foul, and then battled and battled and hit one 19 inches, and we had the right player on base to score on that," Kloyz said. "Hannah Buth, Kailey Nealon, Hannah Just, they did a great job."
Eisenhower (16-6) goes into the week with a 7-1 Woodland West mark, while West (11-8) is 5-2.
The loss hurt the Lions who fell to third in the post-season seeding behind Whitnall and New Berlin West.
Whitnall 12, Lions 2 — Ace Falcon pitcher Alex Cimler tossed a six-inning complete game, allowing six hits, two runs, three walks and six strikeouts. Riley Rossbach was the only Eisenhower player with two hits.
Pius XI 6, Vikings 4 — West lost to the Lady Popes for the first time this season. Karissa Harenda had two hits, including a solo homer to cut the lead to 3-2 in fourth; but, West gave up three in top of the fifth and could only respond with one in each of the next two innings. Hannah Just had two RBI singles, and Harenda struck out eight but walked four.
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