Softball thriller

PEMBINE, Wis. – Miranda Kelley singled in Rachel Stankevich with the game-winning run with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, and Goodman-Pembine squeaked past Niagara 3-2 in a WIAA softball regional Thursday afternoon.

“The Badgers have really improved this season and played hard today,” Patriots coach Sara Seidel said. “I was very much impressed in the level of their play.”

Miller’s single was one of her three hits in the game. Stankevich raked four hits including two triples. Her second triple nearly went for an inside-the-park home run, but she was tagged out at home.

“The Lady Pats played strong defense,” Seidel said. “We had two errors that hurt us because they allowed runs to score. However, we got some hits when we needed them. Rachel’s hitting was strong tonight.”

“She is a heck of a player,” Niagara head coach Duane Blagec said of Stankevich.

Jenna Decker collected the win in the circle. She struck out seven, walked one and allowed four hits.

“Jenna pitched a great game, going right at the batters and using her pitches to our advantage,” Seidel said.

Marah Harvath started for the Lady Badgers, going four innings. Brook Ermi took over in the fifth. Together they allowed 10 hits while fanning two and walking two.

Niagara trailed 2-1 heading into the sixth when Casey Spigarelli walked, stole second and scored on a single by Courtney Marquardt to tie the game.

Spigarelli also had one of Niagara’s four hits. She tripled in the first but was stranded. Maison Huth, Maria Miller also singled.

“The Niagara girls finally put a complete game together,” Blagec said. “It was the first time all year we played a complete game. I am very proud of the girls for their improvement over the season and their effort tonight. It was a great season for us. We went from a very bad softball team to a very respectable club at the end of season. I can’t ask for more than that.

“I wish Goodman/Pembine good luck in the tournament. They have a nice program there.”

Patriots advance to play Three Lakes, traveling there Tuesday.

… In Florence, Elcho stopped a Florence threat in the seventh inning and opened the WIAA Division 4 softball regional with an 11-8 decision Thursday.

The Hornets, triggered by a six-run fifth inning, pulled ahead 9-2 until the Bobcats rallied. Florence plated four runs in the bottom of the fifth and added single runs in the sixth and seventh.

Florence’s Tessa Merhalski, who doubled and singled twice, was robbed of a hit in the seventh inning that may have decided the game.

“We hit the ball well but right at them,” Florence Coach Dan Robinson said. “Tessa hit a bullet that the center fielder got just in the web of her glove.”

In addition to Merhalski, Florence’s offense came from Keaghan Doda, two hits, and Aubree Dumke and Cassie Dumke, one apiece.

“We played real sound defense,” Robinson said. “That was a silver lining. I was proud of the way the girls played defense.”

However, 15 walks and just four hits propelled the Hornets, who visit top-seeded Wausaukee Tuesday.

Florence hosts Crandon today in a Northern Lakes doubleheader.

Elcho 0 2 0 1 6 2 0 – 11

Florence 0 2 0 0 4 1 1 – 8