By Jared Schmeltzer
It was a wild week for the Merrill softball squad, playing seven games over a five-day stretch to make up time lost to a lingering winter. On Tuesday night the girls kicked off the run of games, with a home sweep of Wausau East.
In the first game, the Jays got on the board in the third inning when Maddix Bonnell came through with a double. The Jays scored two more runs in the next inning on a Kelsie Belfiori two-RBI double.
Merrill would extend their lead in the bottom of the fifth as Megan Schroder hit an RBI single and then scored on a double by Makayla Heller.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Jays rallied to score five more runs. Belfiori scored on a Bonnell fly ball, then a double by Calli Oberg would score Patience Pyan to make it 8-0. Taylor Krueger singled to score Oberg from second. An error would score two runs for Merrill ending the game at 11-0.
Taylor Krueger pitched all six innings, striking out five, allowing five hits and no runs.
Belfiori went 2-3 with two RBI’s, two runs scored and a walk. Bonnell also had a two RBI game, going 2-3 with a double, and a run scored. Schroder had three hits to go along with an RBI and a run scored.
In the second game, Merrill beat the Lumberjacks 18-4 in five innings.
The Jays got the jump, scoring two runs in the first. Belfiori led off with a single, and scored on a Bonnell triple. Bonnell then scored on a single by Krueger. East tied the game at 2-2 in their half of the first inning, however Merrill went off for four runs in the top of the second. Pyan would hit a fly ball, scoring Ally Semling. Bonnell would then deliver a single to score another Merrill run. Pyan and Bonnell would both cross the plate on an Oberg single, making the score 6-2.
Three walks in the top of the third inning set up Pyan for a two-RBI single. Bonnell would then clear the bases with a triple, putting Merrill up 10-2. Merrill exploded for eight runs in the top of the fifth. Pyan would drive in Molly Weix with a single. Taylor Krueger would ground out to first base, scoring Pyan from third. A single by Lindsey Casper scored two more Bluejay runners, bringing the score to 14-2. A Semling single scored one, followed by a Molly Weix single that would score two more. Pyan would hit again in the inning and drove in another run to make it an 18-2 game. East scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth, however Merrill would get the 18-4 victory.
Krueger went the whole five innings for Merrill, giving up seven hits, three earned runs, and striking out three batters while walking only one.
Pyan had a huge five RBI game to go along with her three hits and three runs scored. Bonnell also had a big game with four RBI’s, three hits including two triples, and three runs scored. Krueger had a two RBI game with one hit. Casper knocked in two runners, and had one run scored, and one hit.
Jays best West twice
On Thursday, Merrill hosted Wausau West for another conference double header. Again, Merrill swept the day, taking the first game by a score of 4-2.
In the bottom of the third, Merrill took the lead with two runs as Pyan drove in Heller with a single, then scored on a Bonnell double. West struck back in the top of the fourth with a solo home run to bring the score to 2-1.
The Jays would score in the fourth on a walk and a throwing error. West added another solo home run in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the inning, Oberg came through with a single that scored Pyan, as Merrill won 4-2.
In the second game against West, the Jays battled back for a 9-3 win.
West scored one run in the first inning to take a lead that would hold up until the fourth inning, when the Jays rallied for four runs. With the bases loaded, Schroder drew a walk to score one run. A ground out by Semling would push another run across, right before Molly Weix scored two runs with a fielders choice. In the bottom of the fourth inning the Warriors struck for two runs to make it a 4-3 game.
Oberg gave Merrill some breathing room with a solo home run in the top of the fifth. A four-run seventh inning featured a Belfiori RBI single and a three-run homer by Oberg to extend Merrill’s lead to 9-3.
Late rally sparks Bluejays win
On Saturday, Merrill hosted an invitational at the MARC, and the Jays opened with a 6-5 win over Medford.
In the top of the first, Medford scored two runs. In Merrill’s half of the inning, Taylor was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score a run.
Medford scored three more in the top of the second. The Jays responded in the bottom of the third with one run on three singles in a row from Schroder, Semling and Molly Weix.
In the bottom of the fifth, Merrill cut the lead to one. Oberg scored on an error and Semling hit an RBI single. In the bottom of the sixth, singles by Oberg and Krueger scored Pyan and tie the game at five. Casper would then hit a sacrifice fly ball to left field to score the go-ahead run.
Medford would go down in order in the top of the seventh inning, as Krueger struck out four of the last six Medford batters to get the 6-5 win.
Jays beat down Robins
In Merrill’s second game Saturday, they scored 10 runs in the first inning en route to a 17-2 blowout win over Antigo.
Antigo got the first two runs of the game in the top of the first. Merrill struck back in a big way scoring 10 runs in the bottom of the first. Pyan got things started with a solo home run, Antigo would then walk in two runs to give Merrill a lead. Merrill then scored another run on a passed ball before Pyan hit a grand slam and her second homer in the inning to give the Jays a 9-2 lead. Bonnell followed that up with a single and would score on an Oberg double.
Two runs in the bottom of the third brought the 10-run rule into play for Merrill as they led Antigo 12-2. The runs would come off an Oberg ground out and a Krueger single. The Jays then exploded for five more runs in the fourth inning to put the game out of reach. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for a Pyan walk that scored a Merrill run. Bonnell then singled to score two more and leave two runners on. Krueger came through again with a single to score another two runs. Antigo went down in order in the top of the fifth to end the game.
Altoona tops Jays in finale
In the last game of Saturday’s invite, a late inning run pushed Altoona past Merrill.
Altoona scored three runs in the top of the third, but the Jays got one back in the bottom half of the inning. Belfiori reached on an error and advanced on a Pyan single. Bonnell would then fly out, scoring Belfiori from third. In the bottom of the fourth, Merrill would tie the game when Madi Weix singled to score Krueger and Molly Weix grounded into a fielders choice which scored Casper.
Altoona recaptured the lead in the fifth inning, scoring two runs to go up 5-3. In the bottom of the sixth, Merrill pulled within 5-4. Altoona scored one more run in the top of the seventh on a Merrill error. In the last half inning of the game, Belfiori got Merrill’s offense started with a single, then scoring on a MBonnell double. But that’s as close a Merrill would get, as the game ended in a 6-5 loss.