East takes 2 by teeth-skin
Two one-run losses to Wausau East on the road on Thursday proved to be the difference between third and fifth place in the WVC for Merrill.
The Lumberjacks finished 6-6 to tie Wis. Rapids, while the Bluejays ended 4-8 to knot it up with Marshfield.
“We struggled hitting the ball against East,” MHS coach Matt Ellenbecker said. “Their pitcher was throwing very well, mixing in a rise, curve and knuckleball to really keep us off-balance.
“We adjusted over time, but it took a while. We weren’t able to consistently put the ball in play, which is a bit disappointing after we showed improvement in that area throughout the year.
“In Game 2, we were able to have a bit more success hitting the ball. Leonna Ives set the table for us pretty well. We drove the ball to the gaps a couple of times for extra bases, but East would respond right back each time.”
Back-to-back doubles from Cassie Coenen and Jorie Meyer in the fifth inning gave East its 1-0 victory in Game 1. Starr Krenzke and Leesha Kleinschmidt ha the only hits for Merrill.
Merrill– 000 000 0–0.
Wausau East– 000 010 x–1.
MP: Makayla Heckendorf – 6 I, 6 H, 0 W, 11 K, 1 R, 1 ER. MH–2 H, 2 W; Reegan Byer 3-3, 2 R, 3 RBI; Krenzke 1-2; Kleinschmidt 1-3.
The Bluejays grabbed a 2-0 lead in Game 2 with Ives’ RBI double and a sacrifice from Byer. After East took a 3-2 lead with three singles and a walk, MHS tied it up on Heckendorf’s double and a LaMonica single, but finally fell 4-3.
Wausau East 000 310 0–4
Merrill– 002 100 0–3.
MP: Heckendorf – 7 I, 7 H, 1 W, 5 K, 4 R, 2 ER. MH–6 H, 2 W; Chelsey LaMonica 2-3; Ives 2-4, 2B, 3B; Byer 1-2, 2B; Heckendorf 1-3, 2B.
The Jays finally worked in a game with Lakeland last Tuesday, but it turned into an early blowout. A nine-run third helped a 4-0 lead blossom into an 16-0 win after 4-1/2 innings.
“We pitched and played defense particularly well,” Ellenbecker said. “I was really happy that we stuck with a plan at the plate, focused and waited to get quality pitches to swing at.
“This was our senior day. Leesha, Ashley Ollhoff, and Reegan all played really good games for us. Brooke Arneson (hand injury) and Shauna Cottrell (manager) were on the bench helping out any way they can.
Lakeland– 000 00–0.
Merrill– 319 3x–16.
MP: Heckendorf – 2 I, 0 H, 0 W, 4 K, 0 R; LaMonica 3 I, 4 H, 0 W, 2 K, 0 R. MH–11 H, 12 W; Reegan Byer 2-3, 2-2B, 2 R, 3 RBI; Ives 2-2, 3 R, 3 SB; Brooke Bushor 2-2, 3 R; Kleinschmidt 1-1, 3 W, 3 R, 4 SB; Sam Berndt 1-1, 2B, 3 RBI.
The Bluejays hosted East again on Tuesday in the WIAA regional opener. The winner plays at Valley co-champion SPASH (11-1) on Thursday. The Panthers are ranked sixth with a 20-5 overall mark.