Merrill softball faces tough competition over weekend
By Nick Beversdorf
After a string of wins against schools in the Wausau area, Merrill varsity softball lost all three games during a tournament this past weekend. The opponents included Delavan, Escanaba (MI) and Becker (MN).
The first game against Delavan saw both teams keep each other in check until the top of the 3rd when Delavan scored two runs off a fly ball. Delavan scored the rest of their runs in the next inning when a ground ball to the pitcher (Kelsie Belfiori) let in another run while loading the bases. The very next batter hit a grand slam home run to center, bringing Delavan’s score up to seven runs.
Merrill would not be able to muster any runs, but held Delavan scoreless for the rest of the contest. The final score was 7-0 with Merrill managing only 3 hits while committing 2 errors. The next game against Becker, MN saw a better performance from the lady Jays. Becker scored two runs in the 1st inning and three more from a home run hit to center field in the fifth, but the Bluejays were able to score two runs off of two ground balls at the top of the 7th that placed them on the board for the first time, although it wasn’t enough to win the game. The final score was 5-2, with Merrill managing 3 hits and making 2 miscues.
The last game of the weekend against Escanaba, MI saw the best performance from the Bluejays. The girls had an explosive 1st inning, with Lindsey Casper, Kelsie Belfiori, Maddix Bonnell and Madisen Weix all scoring a run from the previous person’s hit. Lindsey would score another run in the 2nd to widen the lead.
Unfortunately, Escanaba crept up on the Jays as the innings progressed until the top of the 6th when they scored 4 runs, tipping the score in their favor. The Bluejays would not be able to regain their lead. The final score was 7-6 with the Bluejays getting 9 hits and committing 3 errors.
“Overall we played some pretty solid ball this weekend, “comments head coach Matt Ellenbecker. “We were generally having solid at-bats, swinging at good pitches, and putting the ball in play. We didn’t square up as well as we hoped to until that last game of the weekend. It was nice to see those bats awaken a bit in that last game. We still made too many defensive mistakes and, as usually is the case, teams took advantage of them. We are really looking forward to some practice time on our fields this week. We have a lot of things to clean up defensively.”
Top performers for the Escanaba game include Lindsey Casper with 2 runs and a walk, Leonna Ives with 2 RBI, a hit and a walk and both Maddix Bonnell and Kelsie Belfiori with a RBI and a walk.
“Kelsie was our leading hitter for the weekend, batting .300 over the 3 games,” adds Ellenbecker. “Leonna Ives tacked on 3 walks, 2 hits and had a very nice .500 on-base percentage for us. She had some very good at-bats throughout all three games. Calli Oberg also impressed, reaching base at a .400 clip for us.”
Ellenbecker also mentions that a leg injury to Taylor Krueger forced a change of plans.
“Initially we were hoping to get Kelsie Belfiori an inning here and there, but a leg injury to Taylor Krueger forced us to change those plans. Kelsie ended up throwing 9 innings for us over the 3 games and she held her own. Her control was a bit spotty in her first start against Delavan-Darian, but she’s pretty fearless out there as a freshman, and that is impressive. It bodes well for her future. Chelsey LaMonica also contributed 6 solid innings, giving up 0 earned runs. When she is out there, confident and throwing strikes, she has been a very good option for us. Taylor toughed out 4 innings against Escanaba, and threw the ball very well.
“The ultimate goal is to come out of games with a W, and that didn’t happen this weekend, but we had a great experience down there as a team against three top-notch teams. All 3 teams we faced are highly ranked in their respective states. We’ll take a lot away from this experience and we have a list of things to continue to work on. It was a fun team trip, and we’ve learned a lot about what we need to do to continue to improve.”
Merrill varsity softball will have there next game this Tuesday, April 21 at 4:30 p.m. against Marshfield @ the MARC.
Win against West
Bluejay softball defeated Wausau West this past Thursday in a high scoring affair with a final score of 15-11, with Merrill making 16 hits and only 2 errors. A Wausau West home run in the 1st inning wasn’t enough to hinder the Bluejays as they fought back with a RBI and left field home run to gain the lead.
The teams traded runs in the early going that initially saw West take the lead in the 3rd inning. Merrill responded with a slew of line drives in the 4th that allowed runs to be made and the lead to be re-taken. After many runs later from both teams the game ended in Merrill’s favor.
“Offensively we had a great game,” comments Ellenbecker. “We had 15 hits, 6 for extra bases. Kelsie Belfiori and Chelsey LaMonica each had two doubles in the game, and Taylor Krueger blasted her first Varsity home run. We had a great two-out rally in the 4th inning. That was huge. We played a very sloppy defensive inning in the bottom of the 3rd and gave up our lead. Our first two batters were put down, but we rattled off 8 consecutive hits after that, and there weren’t any cheap ones in there. We hit it hard.”
Top Bluejay performances for the game include Leonna Ives with 3 runs and 2 walks, Chelsey LaMonica with 3 runs and a RBI, Cassandra Casper with 4 RBIs, a run and a walk, Taylor Krueger with 4 RBIs and a run, Maddix Bonnell with 2 runs and a RBI, Madisen Weix with 2 runs and Leonna Ives with 3 runs and 2 walks.