Orfordville Parkview made Johnson Creek earn its Trailways South Conference championship Monday night.
The Vikings, who came into the day with aspirations of putting themselves in position to win the conference crown, allowed just one run in the first 14 innings of a doubleheader on the road.
But the Jays rallied for four runs in the top of the eighth inning in the second game and 4-0 to finish 7-1 in league play.
“That’s the best ball you’ll see in the area. We went toe-to-toe for two games,” Parkview coach Ally Steinke said. “Those were two really well played games, and that’s what you expect with a key matchup of two top programs. The kids did an excellent job.”
Parkview won the first game, 3-1, to improve to 4-1 in league play at that moment. A second victory would have put the Vikings ahead of the Jays in the loss column with a pair of games left against Williams Bay, which is winless in the Trailways South.
“It was our opportunity to go get,” Steinke said. “Johnson Creek was in the driver’s seat, and we had the opportunity to take the wheel.”
The Jays (ranked No. 3 in the state in Division 4) and the Vikings (ranked seventh) combined to put just five runners in scoring position in the first seven innings of the second game.
Parkview had a golden opportunity to take an early lead when Lauren Hammes and Abbi Butzler ripped a single and double, respectively, to open the bottom half of the first inning. But two groundouts and a flyout later, the Vikings were left off the scoreboard. They mustered just two more hits the rest of the night.
Johnson Creek had a runner in scoring position in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings, but Parkview junior Remington Stark worked out of jams.
Stark struck out 25 batters in the two games combined.
The Jays finally solved her with a flurry of singles in the top of the eighth. They had four of them in a row to begin the inning, and just one of them left the infield. A fielder’s choice, a single, an error and a sacrifice fly later, and it was 4-0.
“Big games, when it comes down to it, it’s the little things that make the big difference,” Steinke said. “In the eighth, we had a couple opportunities where it could’ve been a different story.
“But in the first game, we came up with the hits that made the big difference.”
Stark left her mark all over the first game. She struck out 16 batters from the circle and went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles at the plate.
Sophomore Sidda Meyers had all three RBI for the Vikings, two of them on a single in the fourth inning to take the lead and one on a single in the sixth. Five of Parkview’s six hits—including both from Meyers and Stark—came with two outs.
The doubleheader came a day after the WIAA Division 4 softball brackets were released. Johnson Creek is a No. 2 seed, while Parkview is the No. 3 in the Mineral Point Sectional. The teams could potentially meet again May 23 in a regional final.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them again,” Steinke said.
PARKVIEW 3, JOHNSON CREEK 1
Parkview 000 201 0—3 6 0
Johnson Creek 000 000 1—1 4 1
R. Stark and C. Stark; Pipkin
Leading hitter—R. Stark (P) 2x3, Meyers (P) 2x3. 2B—R. Stark 2. HR—Swanson (JC).
SO—Stark 16, Pipkin 9. BB—Stark 1, Pipkin 1.
JOHNSON CREEK 4, PARKVIEW 0 (8)
Johnson Creek 000 000 04—4 9 1
Parkview 000 000 00—0 4 1
Pipkin, Herman (4); R. Stark and C. Stark
Leading hitters—Herman (JC) 2x4, Thomas (JC) 2x4, P. Stark (P) 2x3. 2B—Thomas.
SO—Pipkin 1, Herman 3, Stark 9. BB—Stark 2.