Fort softball team falls in state semifinals
After the Blackhawks (22-5) swung the pendulum of momentum to their side with a tying run in the bottom of sixth inning of their semifinal game at Goodman Diamond, the Spartans (19-9) responded with three runs in the seventh to win 5-2.
Luxemburg-Casco went on to win the state title with a 4-0 win over Rice Lake in the championship game. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, came up one rally short of a title shot.
“We were really, really, really excited when we tied it up in the sixth inning. I thought we were going to pull another Brodhead,” Fort Atkinson catcher Ashley Boos said, referring to her team’s 9-8, come-from-behind victory over the Cardinals in the sectional semifinals.
“But it got away from us.”
Luxemburg-Casco missed an opportunity to build on a 2-1 lead in the sixth. In the bottom half, Fort junior Maddy Podmolik rainbowed a Texas-League single to right field, and Lexi Weigand chopped an infield single between short and third. After a fly ball moved Podmolik to third, Niki Boos drove her in with a sacrifice fly to shallow left.
Despite seeing his team get even for the first time since the second inning, Fort Atkinson coach Jeff Agnew was left wanting more, considering the promising start to the inning.
“I would’ve liked to have plated another run there,” Agnew said. “Our runs were very hard to get across.”
Spartans ace Kalli Schmelzer, who needed just 83 pitches to earn a complete-game victory, led off the seventh by singling off the glove of her counterpart, Fort senior Emilie Bakken. Wiegand grabbed the ball off the glance at short and threw to first, but Schmelzer’s foot hit first at the very moment the ball hit Niki Boos’ mitt.
Then things got interesting, as Luxemburg-Casco coach Don Schoen initially replaced Schmelzer with courtesy runner Ashley Rukamp. But with one out and leadoff batter Missy Mleziva facing an 0-1 count, Schoen called on freshman Chelsea Ronsman to replace Rukamp.
“Ashley’s a smart senior and maybe one of the smartest base runners we have, but she wasn’t quite as quick as Chelsea, who’s one of the fastest girls on our team,” Schoen said.
Ronsman stole second with relative ease on the next pitch, and after Mleziva lined out to center, Lacey Agamaite hit a chopper that second baseman Amber Foerster bobbled. By the time she threw late to first, Schoen was sending Ronsman. Boos’ throw home was high, and Ronsman slid head-first around the well-positioned catcher Ashley Boos.
“I thought she’d be blocking the plate, so I knew I’d have to get around her to touch the plate,” Ronsman said. “I’d been practicing that.”
“She slid to the back of the plate and did a great job—exactly like she was supposed to do,” Boos said.
Ronsman was taking notes when follow freshman Renee Kinnard pulled off the same feat to score the winning run against Freedom in the sectional finals.
“We were going all the way,” Schoen said. “We’d done it before. We were planning on doing it, especially with that speed.
“We were going to make them make the play, and they didn’t. Fortunately, after that, things started to waterfall.”
Mariah Mleziva crushed an RBI double into the right-center alley before scoring on a wild pitch.
All five of the Spartans’ runs were unearned. And after they took the lead in the seventh, Schmelzer threw just six pitches in a 1-2-3 bottom half to end the game.
The Spartans used three Blackhawk errors to score two runs in the second. Fort got an unearned run in the fourth as Weigand came across on a too-hot-to-handle smash to third off the bat of Agamaite.
Luxemburg-Casco put three runners on base in the sixth but came up empty, thanks to a heads-up play by Podmolik. The right fielder backed up an errant throw at first base and threw a strike to third to cut down Mariah Mleziva for the first out.
“That was awesome,” Ashley Boos said. “That’s just Maddy, though. I wasn’t surprised. That’s just how she plays.”
Boos has gotten very familiar with her teammates as one of Agnew’s five four-year starters.
“We’re all so close,” Boos said. “This is like family. And that’s the hardest part—that we’re all leaving. I know the younger girls will be here next year.”
Agnew, whose daughter Alex was the team’s starting left fielder, had a hard time closing the final chapter of a story long in the making.
“My daughter was just a baby when we started this,” said Agnew, who completed his 17th season as the team’s coach. “It’s always been a plan and a dream for her and her classmates to be playing on this stage.
“They raised the bar, and the younger girls know that. I truly believe you’ll see us back here soon.”
FORT ATKINSON 2
Luxemburg-Casco (ab-r-h-rbi)—Mi. Mleziva, 2b, 4-0-0-0; Agamaite, cf, 4-1-0-0; MaMleziva, ss, 4-1-2-1; VanderPerren, 1b, 4-0-0-0; DawnDeterville, lf, 2-1-1-0; Engebose, 3b, 2-1-1-1; DanielleDeterville, c/dp, 3-0-0-0; Schmelzer, p, 2-0-1-1; Ronsman, pr, 0-1-0-0; Worachek, dp/c, 3-0-1-0. Totals: 28-5-6-3
Fort Atkinson (ab-r-h-rbi)—Foerster, 2b, 3-0-2-0; Lyons, cf, 3-0-0-0; Podmolik, rf, 3-1-1-0; Weigand, ss, 3-1-1-0; Bakken, p, 3-0-1-0; NBoos, 1b, 2-0-0-1; Hitt, dp, 3-0-0-0; ABoos, c, 2-0-0-0; Agnew, lf, 3-0-0-0. Totals: 25-2-5-1.
Luxemburg-Casco 020 000 3—5
Fort Atkinson 000 101 0—2
E—Luxemburg-Casco 2, Fort Atkinson 6. LOB— Luxemburg-Casco 5, Fort Atkinson 4. 3B—MaMleziva. SB—MiMleziva, Engebose, Foerster 2, Weigand 2, Doellstedt 2.
IP H R ER BB SO
Schmelzer (W,14-4) 7 5 2 1 1 5
Bakken (L, 17-4) 7 6 5 0 0 5