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Boyceville surrenders early lead, regional title to Elk Mound

Timing is everything and a double-edged sword.

Just ask the Boyceville girls’ softball team and head coach Jamie Olson.

Boyceville, seeded fourth, played some of its best ball of the season in a three-game run in the regional tournament. The Bulldogs carved up its first two regional opponents with back-to-back home wins at Pafko Memorial Park, shutting out Cornell/Lake Holcombe (#13) 15-0 in three innings to open the tournament Tuesday, May 24 and followed it the next day with a 11-6 win over Fall Creek (#5).

 Those victories vaulted Boyceville into last Saturday morning’s regional final opposite two-time Dunn-St. Croix Conference champion Elk Mound. The contest, originally scheduled for mid-afternoon Friday, May 27, had to be postponed a day due to rain.

But when Boyceville took the field in Elk Mound Saturday, it looked nothing like an underdog despite having lost both regular season games to the Mounders – 12-0 and 11-1.

Instead, the Bulldogs attacked early building a surprising 5-1 advantage on the Mounders’ home field. But then errors, five of them, at the most inopportune of times, stung Boyceville and not only allowed Elk Mound to get back into the game but take a 9-5 lead.

With two outs in the seventh inning, Boyceville scored twice and had the tying runs on base when the Mounders’ senior pitcher and all-conference player of the year Abbey Olsen caught a pop-up for the final out of the game to give the Mounders a 9-7 win and the WIAA Division 3 regional title. A crown that had eluded Elk Mound the previous year when it lost a 2-1 decision to Bloomer in the regional final.

The Mounders advanced to play Eau Claire Regis in one of yesterday’s sectional semifinal games. The winner will play at Eau Claire Memorial Thursday, June 2 against the winner of the Chequamegon-Grantsburg semifinal contest with a trip to state at stake.

For the Bulldogs, the season came to a sudden stop as they finished with a 11-10 record.

The regional final was an even-played contest, errors withstanding, as Boyceville held just a slight advantage in hits – seven to six – as the teams senior pitchers worked to limit opponent opportunities.

Boyceville’s Katie Kegen pitched six innings giving up all nine Mounders’ runs, six hits and four walks while striking out a pair in a losing effort.

Elk Mound’s Abbey Olsen with help from her offense and five Bulldog errors was able to shake off some early damage to get the win. She surrendered seven hits and two walks and struck out six Bulldogs in seven innings of work.

Boyceville drew first blood as it scored twice in the top of the opening innings on Madysn Riek’s two-run dinger.

With two outs, Maddy Bygd singled. Riek followed and parked Olsen’s first pitcher over the left field wall for a two-run home run and an early Bulldogs’ lead.

Junior Morgan Kuhn gave Boyceville a three-run cushion when she reached on an error to lead off the second inning and came in to score on a wild pitch.

Elk Mound would take that run back in the bottom half of the second when sophomore Allison Lindquist hit a lead-off double, took third on a passed ball and scored on a ground out to make it 3-1.

But Boyceville took control with a pair of  runs in the top of the third for its largest lead, 5-1. With one out, Katie Kegen singled and Maddy Bygd took first after being hit by an Olsen pitch. After Riek struck out, Brooklyn Hellmann lined a single to right that scored both Kegen and Bygd. Olsen then hit Morgan Kuhn but was able to get out of the jam without any further damage when Mckenna Weber grounded out to end the Boyceville third inning.

The Bulldogs’ four-run advantage was short-lived as the Mounders put four runs of their own on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the inning. Abbey Olsen got the Mounders rolling with a one-out single. Lauren Scharlau doubled to bring Olsen home. Kegen got the next Mounder to fly out to right.

Boyceville should have been out of the inning on the next at bat but an error extended play and Elk Mound made the Bulldogs pay. Allison Lindquist, who doubled and scored Elk Mound’s first run the previous inning, hit a triple off Kegen in this at bat and bring in two more Mounders run. Lindquist scored on another Boyceville fielding error to knot the game at five all.

It stayed that way for the next two innings as Kegen and Olsen their opposition batters in order.

But in the sixth, the Mounders took advantage of a pair of walks and two more Boyceville errors to score four runs, all with two outs. Lindquist, who finished 3-for-4 with two extra base hits, registered her third RBI of the game to give Elk Mound a 9-5 lead.

Boyceville, however, would not go quietly. With one out, Jenna Beyrer drew a walk. Kegen reached on a fielder’s choice as the Mounders’ got a second out on the play. Bygd and Riek followed with RBI singles that scored Beyrer and Kegen that made it a 9-7 game. But that is as close as the Bulldogs would get. Brooklyn Hellmann popped up to Olsen during the next at bat to end the game.

Seniors Katie Kegen and Maddy Bygd led the Bulldogs’ offense with a pair of hits. Beyrer, Riek and Kuhn each had one.

Lindquist finished with half of the Mounders six hits including a double and a triple, three RBIs and a pair of runs scored.

Fall Creek

Although Boyceville held just a slim 10-9 edge in hits over Fall Creek, the Bulldogs took full advantage of the 13 walks that Cricket pitchers gave them to earn a 11-6 regional semifinal victory Wednesday, May 25 at Pafko Memorial Park.

Fall Creek got on the scoreboard first when Kendra Johnson hit a double off Boyceville starter Katie Kegen.

Boyceville, who has scored early and often of late, came back in its half of the first  with three runs as it collected a pair of walks, three hits including a RBI double by Katie Kegen off Fall Creek starter Anika Paulson.

Paulson surrendered three more free trips in the Bulldogs’ second along with a Brooklyn Hellmann double that put the hosts ahead 5-1.

The Crickets put Emma Mobie on the mound to open the Bulldogs’ third inning and she promptly walked five of the six batters she faced which lead to four  more Bulldog runs. Mobie was unable to register an out and gave way to Rachel Mayer, who got the Crickets out of the inning.

Fall Creek and Boyceville exchanged runs in the fourth as the Bulldogs held to its eight-run lead at 10-2.

The Crickets scored twice in the fifth and the Bulldogs added their final run in the fifth when Bygd walked and scored to make it 11-4.

Fall Creek came up with a pair of seventh-inning scores to make the final, 11-6.

Madysn Riek, Brooklyn Hellmann and Morgan Kuhn had two hits apiece to lead the Bulldogs. Jenna Beyrer, Katie Kegen, Mckenna Weber and Kayla Hoff each had a hit.

Kegen went the full seven innings on the mound to get the win as she struck out six, walked four and allowed six runs on nine hits.

Cornell/Lake Holcombe

It took Boyceville just three innings to whitewash Cornell/Lake Holcombe 15 to zip in the Tuesday, May 24 Division 3 regional softball opener at Pafko Memorial Park.

Senior Katie Kegen pitched a one-hit shut out as Boyceville collected 12 hits and drew 14 walks in the 15-0 route of 13th seeded Cornell/Lake Holcombe.

After a scoreless first inning, Boyceville plated five runs in the second and ten runs in the third to bring the game to an end according to WIAA rules, which allows softball and baseball games to end after three innings if a team is ahead by 15 or more runs.

Eight Bulldogs picked up hits in the lopsided win. Brooklyn Hellmann and Mckenna Weber went two-for-two with Hellmann scoring three runs and Weber a pair. Morgan Kuhn and Kayla Hoff finished the game two-for three and two runs scored each. Katie Kegen, Maddy Bygd, Madysn Riek and Kylie Krueger each had a hit.

Hannah Lee had Cornell/Lake Holcombe’s lone hit and Abby Clark suffered the pitching loss.