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Vikings’ Kunz keys 2-1 win over Eisenhower

14 championships between Ike, West

May 31, 2012

New Berlin — Sometimes people don’t realize how good their softball teams are. Not so in New Berlin.

Last week Eisenhower won its sixth straight Woodland Conference Black Division title (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and their ninth overall (2001-03), coach Jeff Setz said. 

Across town, West won the Vikings second straight Woodland Conference Blue Division title and fifth overall, winning back-to-back titles for the first time since 1983-84, coach Corey Scheel said.

Monday afternoon a packed house showed up to watch the best two teams in the Woodland in their only regular-season matchup of the season — and they weren’t disappointed.

West junior Abby Kunz and Eisenhower senior Jenna Malinauskas hooked up in an old-fashioned pitchers duel and had to overcome shoddy defense behind them several times throughout the game. 

Carey Devine singled in Mallory Klotz with the winning run in the top of the seventh to give the Vikings their first victory over the Lions for as long as anyone could remember.

“It means a lot,” an emotional Scheel said. “Six long years I’ve been waiting for this. As far as how long the program has been waiting for this — I don’t know. I’m going to have to go look that up tomorrow. For me this is something really special — to get that win. It’s also special for the girls and for my one senior Moira (Collins). It’s for all the girls that have come before you. 

“For all the girls who have struggled (to beat Ike). We’ve been close, and close and last year we almost did it. It’s for them. It means so much. And for the season we are having, to add this to it, it’s been great.”

With the game looking like it might get to extra innings, with one out, sophomore Mallory Klotz dropped a bunt to the right of the mound past Malinauskas and beat it out for a hit. Scheel then put on a hit and run and Kelly Duggan slapped the ball to short. With the speedy Klotz running, Carolyn Bogart only had one play, and she retiring Duggan at first.

With Klotz now at second, junior Carey Devine came to the plate. Malinauskas battled Devine, but the No. 3 hitter was able to turn on a fastball and hit one right over the third baseman’s head into left field. Scheel waved on the speedy Klotz, who slid into home ahead of a great throw by leftfielder Jamie Klips.

Klotz and Devine talked about their crucial final plate appearances.

“They were pitching me outside, outside, so I dropped one down and ran it out and hoped for the best outcome,” Klotz said.

As for Devine, she focused on the pitch.

“I was just looking for anything in the zone I like to hit. I was trying to see a pitch I like,” she said. “Just do my normal hitting thing, stay back and do a nice easy swing.”

But the story was Kunz, who fanned 10 and allowed two bloop hits, and Malinauskas, who is behind Katie Lang and Kilps in the rotation. She allowed six hits and struck out six.

Three times Kunz worked out of trouble after her defense failed her and Malinauskas did the same twice.

“In the past if that would have happened, I would have melted down,” Kunz said. “This year, I’ve been focusing on going in there with a confident attitude.”

Setz was very pleased with Malinauskas.

“I wanted to give her an opportunity to pitch in a meaningful game,” he said. “There were a lot of New Berlin people watching and she showed she was a quality pitcher.”

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