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Hilltoppers’ softball team drops regular season finale to Eagles

ALMA — After dropping a 4-2 decision at home earlier this season to Pepin/Alma, Glenwood City was hoping to return the favor when it traveled to Alma last Thursday, May 21 for the conference and regular season softball finale.

But Pepin/Alma and pitcher Emily Kircher had another idea.

Kircher allowed just four hits and a pair of runs as the Eagles soared to a 9-2 victory and the regular season series sweep and snapped the Hilltoppers’ six-game win streak in the process.

“Kircher kept us off balance all night,” stated Pete Gaustad, Glenwood City head coach.

Gaustad noted that the Eagles’ defense also aided Kircher’s performance.

“We did get to her (Kircher) a few times but their outfielders made some plays that I think surprised even them and their third baseman (Brianna Jahnke) took away at least two solid hits,” said Gaustad. “That unfortunately kept us in check.”

Glenwood City’s demise came in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Tied at two, Pepin/Alma plated seven runs in the inning to take a 9-2 lead, a score that would hold up over the final two frames.

“Giving up sevens runs in the fifth was tough to overcome,” Gaustad said.

Glenwood City starter Leslie Ludtke surrendered a pair of base hits to Andi Terpstra and Jahnke to start the Eagles’ fifth.

After a fly out, Ludtke surrendered a pair of walks and the Toppers committed a fielding error that allowed the Eagles to score five runs. Terpstra then collected her second hit of the inning, a two-out, two-run double that gave Pepin/Alma its seven-run cushion.

Glenwood City scored both of its runs in the second inning on Jenesa Klinger’s two-run double that gave the Hilltoppers an early 2-0 advantage.

Nikki Gabbert opened the inning with a base hit. Hannah Ludtke reached on a fielder’s choice and an Eagles error.

Klinger then slapped her run scoring double to bring both Gabbert and Hannah Ludtke home.

But Kircher and the Eagles shut down the Toppers as they allowed just five Glenwood City batters to reach base in the following five innings.

Carlee Strong and Leslie Ludtke had the Toppers’ other two hits, both singles.

Leslie Ludtke, who went six innings, lost the game after giving up nine runs on an equal number of hits (seven of which were earned) and four walks to Pepin/Alma.

Glenwood City finished third in the Dunn-St. Croix standings with a 10-7-1 mark and 12-10-1 overall. The tie came against St. Croix Central after a long, extra innings game was called a draw.

Pepin/Alma, 14-4 and 15-9, finished as conference runner-up to Elk Mound.

The Hilltoppers, who drew the third seed, opened WIAA Division 4 regional competition yesterday (Tuesday, May 26) at home against sixth-seeded Clear Lake. A win would put the Toppers into today’s semifinal contest against the winner of the Spring Valley-Pepin/Alma game. The regional final is set for Friday, May 29.

Details Now Available

Although the Tribune Press Reporter reported the scores of the Hilltoppers’ doubleheader in Prairie Farm on May 16 and the their May 18 win in Plum City, no other details were available prior to last week’s publication time on May 19.

But they were made ready for this week’s edition.

Glenwood City collected a hit for every run it scored in an 11-0 whitewashing of the Plum City Blue Devils on its home field Monday, May 18.

Carlee Strong and the Ludtke sisters, Leslie and Hannah, each had a pair of hits in the winning effort.

Strong and Hannah Ludtke along with Jenesa Klinger belted doubles in the Hilltoppers’ seven run fifth inning.

Glenwood City also scored a pair in the first and sixth innings.

Leslie Ludtke pitched a five hit shut out as she struck out six and walked just two to get the victory.

“Defensively we did a nice job all game of keeping the ball in front of us and limiting our mistakes,” said Coach Gaustad.

“Megan Samens did a fantastic job in the outfield,” added Gaustad.

In Prairie Farm May 16, the Hilltoppers battered Panther pitching for 29 hits in a pair of wins.

Glenwood City collected 20 hits in a 22-4 win in the opening game of the doubleheader.

Nikki Gabbert went 4-for-5 at the plate with a pair of doubles and two runs batted in to lead the Toppers’ hit parade.

Mikaela Voeltz, Carlee Strong and Megan Samens each had three hits in the contest that saw the Toppers plate 15 runs in the first and another six in the fifth and final inning.

Leslie Ludtke picked up the win. She gave up seven hits and four runs, walked three and struck out a pair.

“The girls came out swinging in the first game,” said Gaustad. “We also played a sound defensive game.”

In the second game, Carlee Strong took the mound and threw a 3-hit, one-run gem as the Toppers earned a sweep with a 16-1 win.

The Toppers once again scored early and often in the first frame. They plated six runs in the opening inning and added five more in the third and four in the fifth.

Natalie Gabbert finished a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate – all singles – while Mikaela had two of the Toppers’ nine hits.

“It was great to see Carlee Strong pitch a great game,” noted Gaustad. “She was very accurate and kept control of the game. We kept hitting and continued the momentum from the first game.”