Beloit ends Craig softball season
Unfortunately for the Cougars, the Purple Knights took home the championship plaque.
Beloit strung three singles together in the bottom of the seventh to post a 4-3 victory.
The Knights (12-8) will play Verona in a sectional semifinal next Thursday at Wilmot.
Craig finished 12-10, improving from a five-win season in 2007.
Beloit grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Nikki Masterson’s infield ground ball that drove in Kelsey Smith, who reached on an error and moved to third on Sami Kinzer’s hit.
Craig benefited from three Beloit errors and two infield singles to take a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning.
Brianne Gohlke had an RBI single, and Audrey Freeman added an RBI on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice. Craig scored a third run on a throwing error at the plate.
The Cougars batted around their order and left the bases loaded.
Craig coach Dan Bayreuther said he had a bad feeling after that inning.
“We had bases loaded and didn’t get another (run), and that scared me at that point,” Bayreuther said. “It came back to haunt us.’’
After Beloit scored in the second, Craig pitcher Mandy Smith kept the lid on the Knights until the sixth. That’s when Beloit tied it at 3-3, scoring two runs on three hits and three errors.
“It was the story of the game,” Bayreuther said. “They had one bad inning, and we gave it back.’’
Beloit reliever Ali Goecks, a junior, held the Cougars hitless through the final three innings. Coming on in the fifth for senior Ashley Culver, Goecks notched four strikeouts and walked one.
Beloit coach Jennifer Pozzani said the move to Goecks was part of Beloit’s strategy.
“That was the plan,” Pozzani said. “Ali knew that she was going to go, and she was ready.’’
Goecks proved too much for Craig.
“She overpowered us,” Bayreuther said. “I was thinking the second time through, in the seventh inning, we’d get a shot. But we couldn’t get the bat around on her.’’
Smith held Beloit to three hits through the first five innings. Overall, she notched three strikeouts and walked none.
Goecks singled sharply to open Beloit’s last at-bat. Taylor Wolfe singled to right and Goecks moved to third. Chelsey Hankins ripped hard shot into left center to drive Goecks with the winning run.
“The seventh inning, they won the game,” Bayreuther said. “We don’t have anything to be ashamed about. They were hard-hit balls.’’
Seniors Kelly Lyke, Smith, Anna Fagerli, Gohlke and Abby Geiger played their last game for Craig.
BELOIT 4, CRAIG 3
Janesville Craig 000 300 0—3 4 4
Beloit Memorial 010 002 1—4 9 3
Smith and Cassady; Culver, Goecks (5) and Masterson.
Leading hitters—Gohlke (JC) 2x3, Goecks (BM) 2x2. 2B—Winterland (BM), Goecks (BM).
SO—Smith (JC) 3, Culver (BM) 1, Gocks (BM) 4. BB—Culver 1, Gocks 1.