After a big 8-1 sectional semi-final win over Neillsville May 28 in Stanley, the Elk Mound softball team had high hopes of avenging a loss to Grantsburg in last year’s sectional final game when they met up against the Pirates again at Fall Creek May 30. Things didn’t go as planned however, as they dropped the contest 8-0, ending their season with a record of 19-6.
The Mounders were just no match for Pirate pitcher Macy Hanson as the junior struck out 12 Mounders in seven innings. In fact, the Mounders had just one hit and four baserunners the whole game, with two of them in the seventh inning.
After a scoreless first inning, the Pirates pushed a run across off Mounder pitcher Dayna Kotecki with a one out double and two singles but two fly ball outs ended the inning without further damage. Katie Johnson reached base to start the third for Elk Mound on an error by the third baseman but a strikeout, a sacrifice bunt by Maddy Polden and another K left Johnson at second. Kotecki and the defense did their job as the Pirates left a baserunner on second in the bottom of the inning and the game had all the makings of a low scoring battle as the fourth inning began. But Hanson whiffed all three Mounders in the next go-round and her team added two runs with a double, single and a bunt single to push their lead to 3-0.
Elk Mound went down in order in the fifth and after Grantsburg started their half of the inning with a base hit, the infield came up with a defensive gem as shortstop Becca Kopp snagged a ground ball, stepped on second and gunned the ball to first to Kylynn Simon who dug the ball out of the dirt for a double play. A ground out to Kotecki ended the inning, and it looked like the Mounders had some momentum as they went to bat in the sixth. Polden drew a one out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch but yet another strikeout and a pop up left Polden there.
The Pirates caught up with Kotecki’s fastball in the sixth as they pounded out five hits including a triple and a double to go along with some throwing errors on the Mounders part to break the game open with four runs. All of the runs came in with two outs, and Morgan Polden came in to relieve Kotecki, and gave up the final run on a hit, the Mounders finally got the last out to end the long inning.
Kotecki came up with the only hit for the Mounders on a solid single up the middle to start the seventh and after another strikeout, courtesy runner McKenna Borofka moved up when Amanda Ward drew a walk. But a short pop up to center resulted in a double play to end the game and sent the Pirates back to the state tournament.
“We expected Grantsburg to be tough again but at the same time, we had a much improved team offensively so we truly believed we could stick with them,” Elk Mound coach Kari Kallio said after the disappointing loss. “Their pitcher was great last year and was even more impressive this year. We felt prepared but it just wasn’t our time. They were the better team today and we were outplayed, plain and simple,” she added.
Kotecki absorbed the loss allowing 12 hits and did not strikeout a batter or walk any.
Elk Mound 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0
Grantsburg 0 1 0 2 0 5 X – 8
Holding a slim 1-0 lead on back to back doubles by Kopp and Kotecki after an inning of play, the Mounders exploded for five big runs in the third when Kopp drew a walk, Kotecki reached on an error and Katie Bergh walked to load the bases. Amanda Ward brought in courtesy runner Borofka on a fielder’s choice but the big blast came from Johnson on a towering grand slam over the left field fence for a 6-0 lead.
With Kotecki in control on the mound, Elk Mound made it 8-0 in the fifth inning when Ward led off with a single, moved up when Johnson drew a walk, and came home on a base hit by Lizzie Schreiber. Johnson moved to third on the hit and crossed homeplate on a sacrifice fly by Maddy Polden.
Kotecki gave up just three hits – all to the same batter – with three strikeouts and one free pass to earn the win.
Neillsville 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 – 1
Elk Mound 1 0 5 0 2 0 X – 8