Muskego softball team tips North to claim Classic 8 championship
Warriors prevail in thrilling finale
Due to the cold weather and rain that plagued the area this spring, it took the Muskego and Waukesha North softball teams nearly two months to play their season series.
The squads finally finished up on Friday afternoon, and the wait was well worth it for the Warriors.
North and Muskego had to complete a game from April 10 at North which had been suspended by darkness with the teams tied 8-8 in the 11th inning.
They were going to finish that game and play their second game May 13 at Muskego, but that date was postponed by rain.
So they headed into Friday afternoon with Muskego at 11-1 in the Classic 8 Conference and North at 10-2, looking to finally decide matters.
Things became even tighter when North pulled out a 10-9 decision in the suspended contest, creating a temporary tie at the top between the teams.
Muskego bounced back, though, and tipped the Northstars, 2-0, in the second game to claim the outright crown at 12-2.
"This means so much," said senior Hailey Blount, who hurled a six-hitter and smashed a solo home run in the deciding contest. "This is what we wanted. Coming into this conference, we knew that we had a shot at it. We were fighting for it all year long."
Head coach John Rosenberg said, ""These kids are really special. They work so hard, and they get along with one another. They are deserving."
Both teams were coming off WIAA Division 1 regional titles the previous night. Muskego tipped Wilmot, 4-3, and North downed Oconomowoc, 10-0. It's highly unusual for teams to play regular-season games once the postseason has begun, but the teams had a good reason.
The Warriors (25-3) and Northstars (20-4) will play in sectional competition on Tuesday, June 3, with Muskego at Union Grove and North at Watertown.
On Friday night, though, everything was about the Classic 8 championship.
The suspended game began with the top of the 11th inning, and Muskego scored one run.
The inning began when Delaney O'Keefe singled, and Lizzie Terp reached on a dropped fly ball. O'Keefe was out at home on a groundout, but Tanya Hammitt singled up the middle to plate Terp and put Muskego up, 9-8.
North answered in its half of the 11th. Katie Sanfelippo singled and came home on a double into the left-center gap by Alyssa Grimm to tie the contest.
Isabella Osborn then singled to left-center to bring home Grimm and give North the victory and a tie for the Classic 8 lead.
Blount clearly struggled on the mound in that 11th inning, but that actually helped her heading into the regular game.
"My first inning is where I always need to settle down, get in the groove," Blount said. "I think having that 11th inning helped me settle down. Going out (to the mound for game two), I just said to myself, 'They hit me, and it's time to make adjustments. We have another game to play. I need to settle in.'"
She allowed just an infield single in the first two innings and then came up to bat herself to lead off the second.
Blount belted a pitch over the left-centerfield wall for a solo shot to put Muskego up 1-0.
"I just saw (the pitch) coming in all the way," she said. "It looked good. I just said, I'm swinging, I'm going for it, and it went. It felt good right off the bat and I couldn't have been happier."
The Warriors had a chance to increase the lead in the fourth as Brianna Witter and Blount singled, but with runners on second and third, the inning ended on a groundout.
In the fifth, Annika Graves drew a walk and came home on a bouncer between shortstop and third base from Witter to make it 2-0.
North threatened in the top of the sixth. After two outs, Grimm, Kayleigh Thostenson and Osborn all singled to load the bases.
Blount came back by striking out Taylor Bush to end the inning.
"I threw her a curveball," Blount said. "She was crowding the plate and swinging outside. When people crowd the plate, and if they're chasing, I'm going to make them chase even more."
In the seventh, North put one runner on base but she was thrown out by catcher O'Keefe, and Blount ended the game with her sixth strikeout.
"We worked so hard all year for this together," said Witter, who finished with two hits. "We really wanted this. We didn't want it to go down to the (second) game, but after the first one, we knew we had to get the job done this time."
Rosenberg said the victory after the disappointing loss showed the character of his team.
"That first game broke our streak of 13 wins in a row," he said, "and we started all over again. They could have very easily folded. The character that they show was right there.
"This (the championship) is special. These kids hit the ball all year long. We scored a lot of runs, but to win the championship with a 2-0 game is really special."
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