By Nick Beversdorf
Merrill varsity softball hosted a tournament this past Saturday, facing off against Rhinelander, Marquette Senior High and Neillsville. Merrill lost the first game to Rhinelander with a final score of 4-0, generating five hits and committing three errors. The second game against Neillsville turned out much better with a final score of 13-4 with Merrill generating 17 hits and committing just one error. The last game against Marquette saw Merrill on the losing end of a 7-5 final score, generating 13 hits and committing just one error.
Merrill was only able to muster four hits in the opener with Rhinelander-three from Maddix Bonnell and one from Calli Oberg-and they couldn’t produce any runs. Taylor Krueger pitched all seven innings, striking out one, walking none, allowing six hits and four runs-three of them earned.
There was still a strong defensive effort that helped contain Rhinelander and prevented them from scoring. Top fielders include Chelsey LaMonica with nine putouts and an assist, Bonnell with two putouts and three assists, Cassandra Casper with two putouts, both Lindsey Casper and Krueger with a putout and two assists, and both Kelsie Belfiori and Krueger with a putout each.
“Overall, it was a decent day of softball. Our bats slept in a bit through the first game,” comments head coach Matt Ellenbecker. “But I liked how we hit the ball in games 2 and 3. We were overwhelmed against Rhinelander the first time through the order and really squandered a chance to stake an early lead in the first inning. We struck out more in that game than we have in any other this season. Ten Ks is uncharacteristic of us.”
The second game of the day against Neillsville saw a more aggressive offensive effort from the Bluejays that culminated in 13 runs. Merrill scored two runs in every inning except the second and finished off the seventh inning with three runs. Neillsville started a comeback rally in the sixth inning that culminated with two runs in the sixth and seventh innings, but it wasn’t enough to save them.
Offensive leaders for the game include Oberg (2H, 3R, 1RBI), Leonna Ives (4H, 2R, 3RBI, 2 doubles), LaMonica (3H, 1R, 2RBI), Belfiori (3H, 1R, 2RBI, 1BB, triple) and Madisen Weix (1R, 2RBI, 2BB). The game was pitched well by LaMonica; she struck out five, walked one, allowed eight hits and four runs-all earned.
Merrill also fielded very well. Molly Weix lead the effort with six putouts and a double play. Other top fielders include Oberg with five putouts and an assist; Ives with three putouts, an assist and a double play; Bonnell with two putouts, four assists and a double play; Belfiori with two putouts and an assist; and Madisen Weix with two putouts.
The last game of the day was the most hard-fought. Merrill and Marquette both scored two runs in the first inning. Merrill tacked on two more in the third with Marquette ansering with another run in the fourth. Merrill added another run at the top of the fifth but later a series of Marquette line drives and ground balls helped load and promptly empty the bases to add four runs on the scoreboard for Marquette. Merrill would fight until the seventh but would not be able to score any more runs.
Top offensive players for the Marquette game inlcude Ives (2H, 2R), Cassandra Casper (1H, 2RBI, double), Oberg (2H, 1RBI, double), Bonnell (1H, 1R) and LaMonica (1H, 1R). The game was pitched by Krueger who struck out one, walked one, allowed 11 hits and seven runs-six earned.
LaMonica lead the fielding effort with eight putouts and an assist. Other top performaing fielders include Ives with three putouts and three assists; Oberg with three putouts; Madisen Weix with two putouts; and Bonnell with a putout and an assist.
“I was happy with our at-bats in the Marquette game,” he adds. “I found out later on that their pitcher is going to be playing Division 1 college ball next year. She threw with great velocity, but we hit the ball well against her. That was good to see after a frustrating start to the day.”
“We came away from the day learning two big things: we need to improve our efforts in getting bunts down, and we need to clear up our responsibilities and communication on cut offs and relay throws,” Ellenbecker said. “Bunts need to be automatic plays for us offensively, and right now we are struggling to get the ball down. That is so limiting against good teams, and it will come to haunt us come playoff time.”
Win over East
Merrill obliterated Wausau East last Thursday (May 5) with a final score of 25-1, with Merrill making 22 hits and committing no errors.
After a scoreless first inning the lady Jays jumped to an early lead with eight runs in the second inning. They piled on nine more in the third and another eight in the fourth before the game was called. East only managed one run during the bottom of the third.
Runs and RBI abound for the Bluejays with the whole team chipping in to contribute to the huge score. Top batters inlcude Emily Travis (3H, 4R, 3RBI, double), Kelsie Belfiori (4H, 3R, 1RBI, 1BB), Madisen Weix (1H, 3R, 2RBI), Lindsey Casper (2H, 3R, 2RBI), Chelsey LaMonica (2H, 2R, 3RBI, double), Stephanie Schroder (1H, 2R, 2RBI), Maddix Bonnell (1H, 2R, double) and Payton Waldburger (1H, 2R, 1RBI, 1BB).
Taylor Kreuger pitched four innings, striking out two, walking none, allowing four hits and one earned run. Belfiori pitched one inning and struck out one, walked none and allowed two hits and no runs.
The defensive effort was lead by Molly Weix, Calli Oberg and Leonna Ives all with three putouts and an assist. Other include Lamonica with two putouts and an assist, Waldburger with a putout and Madisen Weix with three assists.
The game against Wausau West originally scheduled for today (May 10th) has been moved to Wednesday, May 11th due to weather.
Stats provided by Gamechanger.