Fort softball rallies to stun Brodhead
The Blackhawks erased a 7-1 deficit to leave the Cardinals on the short end of a 9-8 score.
Fort Atkinson (21-4) and Monroe (12-15) are scheduled to play Friday at Portage for a trip to the state tournament in Madison.
Fort narrowed the gap to 8-7 after six innings. The Blackhawks scored twice in the bottom of the seventh, with Cassidy Lyons lacing a single to score Amber Foerster from third base for the winning run.
“We left the door open a little bit, but we just kept saying ‘win it,’ ” Fort coach Jeff Agnew said. “To the girls’ credit, if you look at the scoreboard, they won the first two innings, but we won every inning after that.’’
Brodhead coach Steve Krupke spoke softly about the disappointing season-ending loss.
“Fort fought. They could have quit in a heartbeat,” Krupke said. “Our defense didn’t help.”
The game was billed as a high-profile battle between Rock Valley South champion Brodhead and Badger South champion Fort Atkinson. It was figured to be a pitchers’ duel between Cardinals junior ace Erika Stampfli and Fort senior ace Emilie Bakken.
In the first inning, Mariah Mohns crushed a Bakken pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run homer, giving the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.
The game became a surprise-an-inning thriller, filled with questionable calls, clutch hits and a 20-plus mph wind that turned anything hit in the air into an Indiana Jones-like adventure.
The Cardinals (22-3) ran their lead to 7-1 in the top of the fourth. The reeling Blackhawks didn’t appear able to muster a comeback, but that’s exactly what they did.
Fort Atkinson got to Stampfli in the bottom of fourth, scoring three runs with two outs to cut the deficit to 7-4. A walk, infield error, two passed balls and Foerster’s RBI double highlighted the comeback inning.
Brodhead seemed to right itself, scoring a run in the fifth as Taylor Douglas singled, stole second and third base and scored to make it 8-4.
Fort answered with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, including Ashley Boos’ RBI double. That pulled the Blackhawks within 8-6.
Bakken got the Cardinals in order in the sixth for the only time in the game for either team to give Fort another pick-me-up.
Fort’s half of the sixth included a controversial call when Maddy Podmolik was called out after scoring the tying run from third base for not tagging up on Lexi Weigand’s deep fly to left. Podmolik hit an RBI single to pull Fort to within a run, 8-7.
“That was pretty disheartening,” Agnew said of the call on Podmolik. “But the girls had to rally. And to their credit, they did that.’’
Brodhead’s Jana Covert opened the seventh with a single, but Bakken got a strikeout and two infield ground balls to end the inning.
In the decisive last at-bat, Stampfli issued a leadoff walk to Nicky Boos and threw seven balls on her first eight pitches.
Fort went on to post three singles, with Foerster’s hit scoring Mikaela Hitt with tying run. Lyons, the Blackhawks’ hit leader with 117, then smacked the winning single.
Pitching with a sore back and slight whiplash suffered in a car accident Tuesday night, Stampfli struggled with control the entire game, allowing an uncharacteristic six walks, hitting two and having four wild pitches.
“I think Erika didn’t have the stamina she would normally have,” Krupke said. “She wasn’t 100 percent, but she carried us all year.’’
FORT ATKINSON 9, BRODHEAD 8
Brodhead 420 110 0—8 8 3
Fort Atkinson 100 321 2—9 8 1
Stampfli and Collins; Bakken and A. Boos.
Leading hitters—Collins (B) 2x4, Covert (B) 2x4, Foerster (FA) 3x4, Podmolik (FA) 2x4, A. Boos (FA) 2x4. 2B—Foerster (FA), A. Boos (FA), HR—Mohns (B).
SO—Stampfli (B) 6, Bakken (FA) 4. BB—Stampfli 6, Bakken 5.
-- Monroe 1, Sauk Prairie 0—The Cheesemakers’ Kristen McArdle scored the winning run in the eight inning on Gwen Sutter’s infield out in the top of the eighth inning.
Monroe (12-15) and Fort Atkinson play Friday at Portage for a trip to the Division 2 state tournament.
MONROE 1, SAUK PRAIRE 0 (8)
Monroe 000 000 01—1 5 0
Sauk Praire 000 000 00—0 4 1
Armstrong and Bennett; Hunt and Blau.
Leading hitters—Trewartha (M) 3x5. 2B—Trewartha (M), McArdle (M), Throne (SP), Larson (SP).
SO—Armstrong (M) 8, Hunt (SP) 9. BB—Armstrong 1, Hunt 3.