By Jared Schmeltzer
On Thursday, March 29, the Merrill softball team traveled to Weyauwega for their first game of the season with the Weyauwega-Fremont Indians. The girls fought hard and nearly won, but fell short as Weyauwega-Fremont would force extra innings and eventually take the win.
Despite the loss, head coach Matt Ellenbecker was pleased with how his team played.
“A good all-around effort for our first time on a softball field,” he said. “They are a very tough team with two very good pitchers, and we made great adjustments after one time through the order. I don’t think the final hit or run columns shows how we handled ourselves at the plate. They played tremendous defense.”
It took five innings for either team to get on the scoreboard as Merrill was able to strike first with one run in the fifth inning. The Bluejays lead wouldn’t hold up long as Weyauwega would answer with one run of their own in the bottom of the fifth inning. Merrill would get one more run across in the seventh inning to take a one run lead into the bottom half of the last inning. Weyauwega-Fremont would once again answer to send the game into extra innings.
It wasn’t until the 10th inning that Weyauwega broke the stalemate, plating a run in the bottom of the inning to win in walk-off fashion.
Although Merrill was only able to score two runs in the game, coach Ellenbecker saw some positives in their offense.
“Taylor Krueger had a good game at the plate, leading us with two hits and a double. It was great to see her go the other way with some pop. We need to be comfortable doing that. I thought Kelsie Belfiori, Maddix Bonnell, Lindsey Casper and Molly Weix put together quality at-bats throughout the day. Kelsie and Maddix hit the ball hard all over the field, even though each ended up with only one hit to show for it. Lindsey and Molly didn’t get hits, but both worked counts, fouled off tough pitches, and made the pitchers work all day.”
As of press time, the Lady Jays were scheduled to host Wausau East on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the MARC. Due to the weather, that game will most likely be rescheduled.