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By Amber Hayden
ELK MOUND — The Mounders’ softball season came to a shockingly sudden and unexpected conclusion in last Monday’s opening round of WIAA Division 3 tournament.
Top-seeded Elk Mound was upset, 4-2, by the #9 seeded Tigers of Stratford in the May 20 regional quarterfinal played on the Mounders’ home field.
Stratford outhit Elk Mound, who had made good contact throughout the contest but saw many of those shots end up in the defenders’ gloves, ten to seven.
“The girls played a great game, we prepared for what we knew about Stratford and the girls made great adjustments to that,” said coach McKayla Brunner.
McKenna Diermeier and Orianna Horel were the only two to score for Elk Mound.
Diermeier scored in the first inning to give the Mounders a 1-0 lead, only to watch Stratford’s Jessamae Rice get the equalizer in the second inning.
The Tigers scored two more times in the third and another run in the sixth to take a 4-1 advantage.
Ace Clare Hallum started on the mound for Elk Mound but Stratford was able to hit the ball well off her as they racked up six hits in Hallum’s three innings.
Diermeier relieved Hallum in the fourth inning and dished out five strikeouts while walking four in the final four innings.
“We made the adjustment and brought McKenna in and her speed provided us with time to catch up as we were able to keep them scoreless for a while,” Brunner explained.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Orianna Horel hit a single to right field to get on base and advanced to third on the next play. McKenna Diermeier’s sacrifice fly to left field allowed Horel to score the Mounders’ final run.
Abby Curry and Kallee Rhude led Elk Mound in hits with two a piece in their three at bats. Hallum, Horel and Hailey Blaskowski each finished with a hit.
“Hard to think seven hits doesn’t get you more than two runs,” Brunner said. “Stratford played a great game and so did we, just wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for.”
Kylah Wenzel had a hand in that as she threw all seven innings for Stratford and despite finishing without a strikeout, scattered seven hits and allowed just those two Mounders’ runs to earn the pitching victory.
Jessamae Rice and Clare Bargender both went 3-for-4 for the Tigers while Brooke Grell had two hits.
Elk Mound, who finished as the runner-up in the Dunn-St. Croix for the second straight season with a 14-2 record and an 18-5 overall, won 17 of its first 20 games including a 13-game unbeaten streak but lost two of its final three games.
ELK MOUND 2, STRATFORD 4
Elk Mound.….….….…….1 0 0 0 0 0 1 – 2
Stratford.….….…………..0 1 2 0 0 1 0 – 4
Elk Mound (2) AB-H-R: McKenna Diermeier 2-0-1, Sophie Cedarblade 4-0-0, Hailey Blaskowski 4-1-0, Clare Hallum3-1-0, Abby Curry 3-2-0, Issie Hollister 3-0-0, Morgan Radtke 3-0-0, Hannah Larson 2-0-0, Kallee Rhude 3-2-0, Orianna Horel 1-1-1. Total 28-7-2.
Stratford (4) AB-H-R: Mariah Zawisian 2-1-0, Sydney Boeger 3-0-1, Paige Kolbeck 3-0-1, Jessamae Rice 4-3-1, Alexcis Gadke 3-0-0, Mazie Nagel 4-1-0, Clare Bargender 4-3-1, Emily Meyer 2-0-0, Brooke Grell 3-2-0. Total 29-10-4.
Pitching: Elk Mound — Clare Hallum 3 IP, 6 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 3 R (3 earned), McKenna Diermeier 4 IP, 4 H, 5 K, 4 BB, 1 R (1 earned); Stratford
— Kylah Wenzel 7 IP, 7 H, 0 K, 1 BB, 2 R (1 earned).