By Nick Beversdorf
Bluejay varsity softball started their post-season run with a shutout victory over Northland Pines. The final score was 15-0 with Merrill making 11 hits and no errors. A coordinated effort on the mound and at bat helped ensure consistent runs and consistent outs.
Merrill started the first inning with Taylor Krueger pitching three back-to-back strikeouts to move the game into the bottom. Once at bat, Merrill started their scoring drive with Maddix Bonnell scoring a run off a passed ball. After that Chelsey LaMonica walked in Leonna Ives and later LaMonica herself scored a run after a failed pick-off to first (Lindsey Casper). After that, Krueger would walk in Madisen Weix, and Emily Travis would bat in both Cassandra and Lindsey Casper with a line drive to center.
Krueger would start the second with another strikeout, and although a Pines player would get a hit and advance to first, she was quickly picked off soon after. A grounder to third would result in the third out for Pines.
Back at the plate Merrill continued scoring, starting with LaMonica getting a run off a wild pitch. Kelsie Belfiori, after tagging back up on third, scored a run off Lindsey Casper’s fly to center and Cassandra Casper would later score off Krueger’s hard grounder to left. Both Payton Waldburger and Bonnell would walk in for two more runs before the inning ended.
Krueger pitched two more strikeouts at the top of the third, with Bonnell catching a fly for the third out. Back at the plate, Merrill got just one run with Makayla Heller batting in Stephanie Schroder with a grounder to left.
Pines had another short time at the plate, this time with Molly Weix getting the outs. She caught a popup fly in foul territory for the first out and got the last two at first with assists from Waldburger and Bonnell.
Merrill got their last two runs in the bottom of the fourth, one from Calle Johnson scoring on a passed ball and the other from Bonnell scoring off Madisen Weix’s hard grounder to shortstop. With 15 runs on the board for Merrill, the game was called.
The lady Jays were on fire at the plate, not just with hits, but also walks as they exploited Pines’ pitching to get forced base advancement and runs. Top hitter include LaMonica (1H, 2R, 2RBI, 2BB), Bonnell (1H, 2R, 1BB, double), Schroder (1H, 1R, double), Cassandra Casper (1H, 2R, 1BB), Travis (1H, 1R, 2RBI, 1BB), Lindsey Casper (1H, 1R, 1RBI, 1BB), Krueger (1H, 1RBI, 1BB), Madisen Weix (1H, 1R, 1RBI), Molly Weix (1H, 2R), Heller (1H, 1RBI) and Ives (1H, 1R).
Krueger pitched a terrific game for the first three innings, striking out six, walking none, allowing one hit and no runs. LaMonica pitched the last inning, striking out none, walking none and allowing no hits and no runs. For the few times the ball made it into the field, Calli Oberg lead the fielding with six putouts. Other fielders include Molly Weix (3PO), Bonnell (1PO, 1A), LaMonica and Lindsey Casper (1PO each) and Waldburger (1A).
With this win, the Bluejays advance to the next round where they will face off against Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau today at 4 p.m. at the MARC.
Stats provided by GameChanger.