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Pirates plunder Hilltoppers’ sectional softball dream

AUGUSTA — The glass slipper was shattered in a Pirate attack.

Glenwood City’s cinderella-run through the softball playoffs ended with a 13-3, five-inning loss to Cochrane-Fountain City in a  WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal game played Tuesday, June 4 in Augusta.

After spotting the Hilltoppers a 3-0 advantage, the defending Division 4 state runners-up scored 13 unanswered runs to claim the win. The Pirates collected 17 hits off Glenwood City starter Leslie Ludtke including a half dozen for extra bases to propel them to victory.

“Cochrane-Fountain City is a good team and they can hit,” stated Glenwood City head coach Pete Gaustad following the season and tournament ending loss. “For us, it was a role reversal from last Friday’s (regional final) game against Elmwood. We just could not get the runs in.”

“C-FC had very few holes in their line-up,” added Gaustad. “There is a reason they were at state last year.”

The Hilltoppers, who had just four hits against Pirates’ starter Kashes Franz, finished the 2015 season with a 15-11-1 record and their first regional championship in 24 years.

The Hilltoppers rolled into the sectional semifinal contest with a lot of confidence having won nine of its previous ten games as well as their first regional title in nearly a quarter of a century – a 16-1 shellacking of Elmwood.

That momentum continued into the first inning and a half of sectional play.

Glenwood City scored twice in the first inning and added another run in the second to lead Cochrane-Fountain City 3-0.

Carlee Strong opened the game with a lead-off single, a hit that Gaustad admitted helped to ease his players big-game nerves. Mikaela Voeltz then hit into a fielder’s choice and Strong was forced out at second. Natalie Gabbert drew a walk as the Toppers had a pair of runners on base. Leslie Ludtke grounded out to the second baseman but the both Voeltz and Natalie Gabbert advanced to third and second respectively. Back-to-back RBI singles from Nikki Gabbert and Hannah Ludtke scored Voeltz and Natalie Gabbert gave the Toppers a 2-0 advantage before Jenesa Klinger struck out to end the inning.

In the second, Megan Samens hit a one out single and scored on Natalie Gabbert’s base hit to increase the Glenwood City lead to 3-0.

But in the bottom half of the second, Cochrane-Fountain City plated six runs including a three-run homer off the bat of Meghan Pacocha that, at the time, knotted the game at three. Kayla Kaczorowski’s double and singles by Lexi Schmidtknecht and Kerrigan Lyga helped C-FC score its other three runs.

The Pirates never looked back as they plundered the Hilltoppers’ dreams of a sectional victory.

Cochrane-Fountain City used five hits to add four more runs next inning and one in the fourth before bringing the game to an end in the bottom of the fifth with its final two runs.

While the Toppers were able to put the bat on Franz’ pitches they managed only five hits in five innings of play as many of the hits went directly to Pirate defenders.

Senior Leslie Ludtke suffered the loss in her final high school softball game. She surrendered 17 hits and 13 runs (12 earned) in four and two-thirds innings while walking three.

Franz settled in after the first inning to get the pitching victory. She gave up three runs on five hits and had three strikeouts and issued one walk.

Glenwood City’s hits – all singles – were made by Carlee Strong, Natalie and Nikki Gabbert, Hannah Ludtke and Megan Samens.

Pacocha, Kaczorowski and Abbey Husser had three hits each to lead the Pirates.

The Toppers also had to say its goodbyes to five seniors. It was the final time that Megan Samens, Hannah and Leslie Ludtke, Nikki Gabbert and Mikaela Voeltz donned the Hilltoppers’ blue and white.

But those five have helped revitalized the Glenwood City softball program.

“It was a great year for all these girls,” stated Coach Gaustad. “They have set the bar high and showed that we can do great things.”

Continued success, however, will depend on the girls themselves, noted the coach.

“It’s about how much time the kids put in during the off season,” Gaustad said. “Hopefully, we will not have to wait as long for another championship and can become a perennial winner.”