By Jared Schmeltzer
On Thursday afternoon the Merrill softball team went up against one of the best teams in the state in the SPASH Panthers. Merrill fought hard and held a lead after four innings of play, however SPASH would make a late comeback and take the 4-3 win over the Jays.
Merrill head coach Matt Ellenbecker praised his team’s defense and pitching in the game.
“We played excellent defense,” he said. “Kelsie made huge plays out in center, Calli was nails behind the plate, and Maddix is so steady and consistent at SS. Everybody played a solid game defensively, and Taylor was really on hitting her spots. Holding them to four runs takes all parts working together. Room for error is so small every pitch.”
In the first inning, the Panthers jumped out to a two run lead on the power of a two run homer by Halle Pavelski. The Jays would respond in the bottom of the third inning scoring three runs to take the lead. Madi Wiex led off the inning with a single past the shortstop, and would advance to third base on a Kelsie Belfiori double to left field. Patience Pyan would then walk to load the bases, as Maddix Bonnell reached base on an error, allowing a Merrill run to score. A single by Calli Oberg would score two more Bluejays as Merrill took the early 3-2 lead.
In the top of the fifth inning Pavelski would strike again, as she blasted another two run homer to left field to take the 4-3 lead on the Jays, which would be enough to secure the SPASH win.
“Halle Pavelski is a senior who has been a good player for four years, and she made the difference today,” Ellenbecker said.
Taylor Krueger pitched all seven innings for Merrill, allowing four runs on seven hits, walking two batters and striking out two.
The Jays’ leading hitter in the game was Belfiori with two hits in three tries along with one walk. Oberg went 1-4 at the plate with a single and two RBI’s.
Jays Handle Hatchets
On Friday. the Merrill softball team faced Lincoln County foe Tomahawk at the MARC. Merrill was able to take care of business, beating the Hatchets by a score of 11-2.
After the Hatchets struck first with one run in the top of the first inning, the Merrill offense exploded for five runs in their half of the inning. A double by Pyan started things off for the Jays, followed by an Oberg single that would score Pyan. Krueger and Lindsey Casper would both draw walks to load the bases as Makayla Heller doubled to center field to score three more runs. Heller would later score on a Molly Weix single to center making the score 5-1. Merrill added one more run in the bottom of the second inning to extend their lead. A single by Bonnell followed by an Oberg double, allowed Bonnell to score on an error by the left fielder.
The bottom of the fourth inning saw Merrill extend their lead by another run. Pyan singled and later stole second base to get into scoring position for Bonnell, who would knock her in with a single past the second basemen. The Jays would tack on another run in the fifth inning on a single by Belfiori, scoring Madi Weix who reached on an error.
With the Jays up 8-1 in the top of the sixth inning, Tomahawk was finally able to add another run. A triple by Courtney Theiler got things started for the Hatchets and a single by Rachel Dallman would score Theiler making it an 8-2 game.
In the Merrill half of the sixth inning, the Jays would load the bases and score two more runs. Oberg singled to start the rally, followed by Krueger who was hit by a pitch and Casper who reached on an error. Heller would reach on an error, scoring a Merrill run. Molly Weix then doubled to center field scoring two more runs, extending the lead to 11-2, which would be the final.
Taylor Krueger pitched all seven innings for the Jays, allowing two runs on four hits. Krueger would strike out six batters on her way to a win.
Molly Wiex had a three hit game for the Jays, knocking in three runs along the way. Heller led Merrill with four RBI’s to go along with her two hits and two runs scored. Oberg had a 3-4 night at the plate with one RBI and one run scored. Bonnell went 2-4 with one RBI and a run scored, while Pyan rounded out the offense going 2-4, with two runs scored.