New Berlin Eisenhower softball beats New Berlin West, Whitnall to advance
Girls two wins away from softball state tournament
New Berlin Eisenhower needs to win two games this week to make another trip to the WIAA Softball Championships on June 12-14 at Goodman Diamond in Madison.
The Lions have made five trips to state, the last time in 2008 when they won the state title.
The third-seeded Lions played the fourth-seeded St. Francis team on June 3 at Cudahy to begin this week. They beat St. Francis, 12-0, back on April 10 and if they beat the Mariners again, they would travel to Chilton on June 5 and play the winner of the second-seeded Waupun/third-seeded Grafton game from the upper bracket.
Coach Jeff Setz's team had to battle to win their regional championship last week, first defeating the crosstown Vikings, 8-6, on May 28, and then rallying to defeat Whitnall, 7-5, the next day on the road.
Senior Katie Schlegel, who struggled on the mound against West in the semifinal, bounced back and fought off a groin injury to pitched a complete game 7-5 win against Whitnall (24-4) on May 29.
Schegel scattered 10 hits on the mound and drove in three runs at the plate to spark the win.
Schlegel struggled early, allowing three runs in two innings, but the Lions tied the game at 3-3 in the fourth on Riley Rossbach's RBI single. Ike went ahead with a three-run fifth inning for a 6-3 lead as Anthie Katris had an RBI single and Schlegel slammed a two-run double.
Ike had a run in the sixth, the Falcons countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning on a two-run homer by Lara Stachowski, but that was all they could get against the gutsy Schlegel.
No. 9 hitter Cassie Majinski was hit by a pitch with two outs, stole second and scored on Ali Nowak's single for a big insurance run.
Nowak was the major hero the day before, when she smashed a long two-run homer off New Berlin West's Karissa Harenda in the sixth inning to break a 6-6 tie.
"Allie always come in clutch," Lombardo said of her teammate. "She is a really, really consistent hitter."
Nowak knew that ball was out of the park.
"It felt really, really good," she said. "I was just being aggressive on that at bat."
Steffi Lombardo, who had two hits and a run scored, pitched the first three innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits, while walking two and fanning one. Schlegel relived her to start the fourth, but struggled with a hit to Mallory Klotz, a walk to Hannah Buth, an RBI double by Kailey Nealon and a walk to Hannah Just.
Setz then flopped her and Lombardo, with Schlegel going back to short, and the lanky Lombarado got the next three outs to prevent what could have been a big inning.
West scored two unearned runs off Lombardo in the fifth to tie the score, but then she settled down and retired the final six hitters, striking out four of them.
"I think she knew it was her time to beat this team," Setz said. "She had a look in her eye like 'I gotta do this now."
Lombardo was thinking of Schlegel when she went back to the mound.
"Katie has been having health issues, so I wanted to do it for her," Lombardo said. "So she gets better fast. I was throwing harder those last few innings; way harder than I was the first few.
"I could pretty much throw it where I wanted. All my pitches were working. It was good timing."
Nealon's big day
Nealon had a huge day in her final high school game, singling twice, doubling and driving in three runs. Same with Klotz, who singled twice and scored twice, as West managed nine hits.
Nowak scored four runs from her lead-off spot and added two walks to her day, while Schlegel had a walk, single and a double as Ike only had six hits off Harenda.
"She's only a sophomore, but she is one of our better leaders on the team," Setz said of Nowak. "But she is in a position (catcher) to do it. The catcher's spot is like the quarterback in football.
"We moved her from the cleanup spot to the lead off spot because she has a way of getting on base. I was going to bunt her, but then she has a way of getting a big hit. I wasn't expecting a home run, but you take what you can get."
West coach Greg Klotz gave Lombardo credit as well as a game ball afterward. But he was disappointed with the bottom of the order's inability to produce.
"Our bottom of the lineup, our six, seven, eight hitters, didn't produce today (1-for-11) like they did last time," he said. "We needed those baserunners on when we move to the top of our lineup because the top of our lineup really came through once again today."
West finished up 15-9 overall and 11-5 in the Woodland West Division, second place behind the Lions (13-4, 21-7), who the Vikings beat twice.
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