Janesville Craig softball advances
Two innings of offense was enough to send Janesville Craig High School’s softball team into the WIAA Division 1 regional finals.
The Cougars scored four times in the third inning and three in the fourth, and then used several key defensive plays to hold off Kenosha Tremper, 7-5, Tuesday at Dawson Field.
The win sends the Cougars (14-9) into Thursday’s 4:30 p.m. matchup against top-ranked and top-seeded Kenosha Bradford (20-1) at Bradford.
“We’re going to go for it,” Craig coach Dan Bayreuther said of the regional final. “We have nothing to lose. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
If the Cougars can match the offensive output of the third and fourth innings of their regional opener, they could give the Red Devils a game.
The Trojans, who were the home team, pushed across a first-inning run against Craig starter Bailie Whittaker. The score remained that way until the Cougars’ four-run third.
All four runs came with two outs after freshman Haley Bayreuther reached on a fielder’s choice. Bayreuther stole second, one of her four stolen bases in the game, and went to third on a wild pitch.
Audrey Freeman tied the game with an RBI single, and she gave the Cougars a lead when she scored all the way from first on Gabrielle Cassady’s double into the right-center field gap.
Jillynn Mortensen drew a walk, with Cassady stealing third on the fourth ball. Mortensen stole second, and both runners scored on Lindsey Oliver’s single to left.
Several players contributed to Craig’s three-run fourth as well. With one out, Kelly Moench reached on a swinging bunt. Freshman Stephanie Perleberg then was hit in the leg with a pitch, and Bayreuther loaded the bases with a single.
Freeman then greeted Tremper reliever Sara Skarda with a single to left, bringing hole Moench and Perleberg.
Mortensen finished the Craig scoring with a sacrifice fly to center.
That gave the Cougars a 7-1 lead and allowed Whittaker to exhale a bit.
“It was nice insurance,” she said.
And the two-inning explosion put a smile on coach Bayreuther’s face.
“I thought in the third and fourth innings, we played as well as we could play,” Bayreuther said. “The seven runs were enough to get us through.”
But it took plenty of sweat. Tremper, which was seeded eighth, one spot ahead of Craig, finished with 15 hits, nine more than Craig. But the Trojans left 10 runners on base, including the tying runs in the sixth and seventh.
Freeman, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored, came in to relieve Whittaker with two on and two outs in the sixth.
She allowed a two-run single, but got out of the inning, and then survived one final jam in the seventh when Tremper put together two straight singles after the first two batters were retired.
“I wasn’t ready to be done with the season yet,” Freeman said. “That’s our motive.”
Freeman came up with two great plays while playing first, while center fielder Moench threw out Tremper’s Jessie Werbie who tried to score from second on Ellie Dujardin’s two-out single in the second inning.
Second baseman Whitney Oliver made the final outstanding defensive play when she stabbed a short-hop liner and threw out Lauren Boresch to start the seventh.
“That was a big play,” coach Bayreuther said. “If she gets on, we’re in a little bit of trouble. We made the plays we had to.”
CRAIG 7, TREMPER 5
Janesville Craig 004 300 0—7 6 0
Kenosha Tremper 100 202 0—5 15 1
Whittaker, Freeman (6) and Cassady; Leable, Skarda (4) and Werbie.
Leading hitters—Freeeman (JC) 2x3, Ewens (KT) 3x4, Garcia (KT) 4x4, Werbie (KT) 3x4. 2B—Cassady (JC).
SO—Whittaker (JC) 3, Leable (KT) 4, Skarda (KT) 3. BB—Leable 3, Skarda 2.
Verona ends Parker season
-- Verona 6, Parker 2—Kirsten Brose belted a triple, double and a single as the Wildcats eliminated the Vikings (1-22) in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal.
Verona pitcher Michelle Holman struck out eight in five innings.
The Vikings did break through for a pair of sixth-inning runs, cutting Verona’s 4-0 lead in half. Alyssa Byford and Paige Muehlenkamp both had RBI groundouts. Parker’s Lauren Brooks had two of the Vikings’ three hits.
“Obviously, this was not, in terms of losses, what I hoped for this season,” Parker’s first-year head coach Jenni Seisser said. “The last week and a half, the last two weeks we played a lot more solid defensively. Our bats have come around. Tonight I saw a lot of things I saw we improved on.”
The youthful Vikings could have as many as eight starters back next season.
“It was a building year knowing we only had one player returning with any varsity experience,” Seisser said. “It was slow in the beginning to get us to jell. We’ve turned the corner. There’s some promise in the future.”
VERONA 6, PARKER 2
Parker 000 002 0—2 3 1
Verona 103 002 x—6 7 2
Ross and Byford; Holman, German (6) and Hegge.
Leading hitters—Brooks (P), 2x3; Brose (V), 3x4; Holman (V), 2x3. 2B—Brose. 3B—Brose.
SO—Ross 4, Holman 8, German 2. BB—Ross 3.