The Merrill girls split with Marshfield last Tuesday and swept Wausau West on Thursday to move into a tie for third in the Valley. They followed it up by taking 2-of-3 in their home invite on Saturday.
The Jays topped Crandon 12-6, fell 1-0 to Rhinelander, but bounced back with a 5-3 victory over Marquette, Mich.
“A perfect day for ball,” MHS coach Matt Ellenbecker said. “We played better ball as we made our way through the day. Base-running cost us some runs in the first game against Crandon and our defense was shaky at times, but we were able to get out of there with a win.
“Against Rhinelander, we ran into a hot pitcher. She throws pretty hard, but was really able to hurt us with a nice rise-curve that she would run right off the outside of the plate and we couldn’t lay off or make contact. Our defense and pitching did a great job of keeping us in a game, though.
“Marquette had solid pitching and some good hitters, so getting a win in that game was big for us. We played our most complete game of the day in that one, which is what you’d like to see over time. We had a good crowd and a lot of support from parents which made for a great day of ball.”
Merrill– 012 203 4–12.
Crandon– 102 010 2–6.
MP: Molly Schultz – 7 I, 7 H, 1 W, 0K, 6 R. MH–18 H, 3 W; Makayla Heckendorf 3-4, 2-2B, 3 RBI; Starr Krenzke 3-4, 2-2B, 3 R; Leonna Ives 3-5; Schultz 2-3, 2B, 3 R; Reegan Byer 2-4, 2 R, 3 RBI; Chelsey LaMonica 2-4; Leisha Kleinschmidt 2-5, 2B, 2 R; Mariah Turenne 1-4, 2B.
Merrill– 000 000 0–0.
Rhinelander–001 000 x–1.
MP: Heckendorf 6 I, 6 H, 0 W, 7 K, 1 R, 1 ER. MH 1 H, 1 W–K. Wayda 1-2.
Merrill– 000 212 0–5.
Marquette–101 001 0–3.
MP: Heckendorf – 7 I, 9 H, 0 W, 4 K, 3 R, 2 ER. MH–5 H, 4 W; Ives 2-4, 2 RBI; Kleinschmidt 2-4.
The Jays handled the Warriors with 7-2 and 5-3 triumphs.
“We hit the ball well enough, but we didn’t run bases particularly well,” Ellenbecker said. “We ran ourselves out of some big innings. That would be something that continued into the weekend. As coaches, we've talked about that, and base-running will be a part of each practice going forward.”
West started the opener with two runs on two hits and two walks, but Heckendorf didn’t allow another base-runner until the sixth. The Jays scored all they needed in the first.
W.W.– 200 000 0–2.
Merrill– 400 002 1–7.
MP: Makayla Heckendorf – 7I, 5H, 2W, 5K, 2R, 2 ER. MH–11 H, 1 W; Turenne 3-4, 2B; Kleinschmidt 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Heckendorf 2-4, 2 RBI; Wayda 2-4, 2B.
Merrill– 001 040 0–5.
W.W.– 000 030 0–3.
MP: Heckendorf – 7 I, 7 H, 3 W, 3 K, 3 R, 0 ER. MH–11 H, 2 W; Kleinschmidt 3-3, 2 R; Brooke Bushor 2-3, 2B; Byer 2-4, 2-2B.
The Bluejay girls split a double-header with Marshfield on Tuesday night at the MARC, dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker in the opener, but responding with an 8-4 triumph. Merrill jumped out early in both games, scoring three runs in the first inning of Game 1 and four in the first set of Game 2.
“These were not our best games,” MHS coach Matt Ellenbecker said. “We came out hitting the ball as hard as we have all year. But after the first we kind of shut it down. Three runs isn’t going to win you a whole lot of games. When you score three in the first, I’m thinking we’re going to score 10 in the game.”
Marshfield was able to tie up Game 1 in the sixth inning and win it in the seventh. But Merrill backed up its early start in Game 2 with another three runs in the 2nd. The Tigers scored twice in the 4th and twice more in the 5th, but couldn’t get any closer despite numerous baserunners.
“It was probably our worst defensive game of the year,” Ellenbecker said. “Our infield struggled a little bit, but we made enough plays to win it.
“Chelsey LaMonica showed she can pitch at the varsity level. Makayla (Heckendorf) is still our ace, but it’s nice to have Chelsey and Moly (Schultz) to back her up.”
Merrill pounded out 11 hits in Game 2, with Leonna Ives, Starr Krenzke, Reegan Byer, Leisha Kleinschmidt and Mariah Turenne all hitting 2-for-4. Kleinschmidt ripped a two-run homer in the first and Ives and Krenzke both doubled twice. Krenzke drove in a run with each of her doubles.
LaMonica hit 2-3 in the first game as the Jays ended up with 7 hits.