By Nick Beversdorf
Bluejay varsity softball faced off against Wisconsin Rapids – Lincoln Tuesday, winning 8-1 while generating 12 hits and committing two errors. This win puts Merrill at 6-1 in the Valley Conference and 6-5 overall.
The first inning saw the Bluejays make quick work of Rapids, squashing any attempt to make it to first base.
Rapids managed to hold of any Bluejay runs until the bottom of the second when Emily Travis hit a grounder to shortstop that allowed her to reach 2nd base on an error while allowing Cassandra Casper to score.
The score would remain stagnant until the bottom of the 4th when Lindsey Casper would reach 1st base on error, allowing Emily Travis to advance to 3rd and Maddix Bonnell to run home. Travis would then score off a Chelsey LaMonica line drive to left field. The inning would wrap up with both LaMonica and Lindsey Casper scoring runs off a Kelsie Belfiori hit to right field.
The Bluejays would score the rest of their runs in the 6th, starting with Leonna Ives scoring a run off a wild pitch. Weix would score off a Belfiori grounder to first base and later she would score a run off a passed ball. Rapids would squeeze one run out of the 7th before the game was called.
“We played very well tonight,” comments head coach Matt Ellenbecker. “Taylor pounded the strike zone and we played very solid defense behind her. After a couple of Es in the first two innings, our infield played spectacular. Of the 21 outs recorded, there were 2 fly balls and 19 ground balls. Lindsey and Maddix were tested continuously and made a lot of plays for us on the left side.”
Indeed so, as LaMonica scored 14 of those outs, helped by Bonnell’s 8 assists. Ives also contributed to the defensive plays with 4 putouts.
“We had consistent production throughout our lineup in this one, with 8 different players scoring 1 run for us,” adds Ellenbecker. “Calli Oberg had a tremendous game. She has really had fantastic at-bats throughout the last couple of weeks. She has a plan when she steps into the box and carries it out. Really, as a team we’ve had a great approach in all of our ABs. We rarely let pitchers off easy. Calli has been at the forefront of that. On top of that, she was a wall behind the plate tonight. When a pitcher has confidence to skip a change-up in there, that’s invaluable.”
Offensively, it was pretty uniform in terms of who scored how many runs. Kelsie Belfiori had 1 run and 2 RBIs while Cassandra, Lindsey, Emily Travis, and LaMonica all had 1 run and 1 RBI. Weix, Bonnell and Ives all had one run and Oberg had 2 walks.
“This is two games in a row that we’ve played pretty well,” Ellenbecker said. “I like the direction we’re heading. We know we’ll have setbacks, but so far we have responded very well when those have occurred. It’s a sign of the mental toughness of this group. This weekend we head to Portage where we’ll see some more quality pitching and teams.”
Bluejay varsity softball will play in a tournament in Portage at 9 a.m. this Saturday.