The Iola-Scandinavia softball team saw its season and hopes to reach the state tournament end Saturday, June 11, with a 4-0 loss to Stevens Point Pacelli.
The Thunderbirds had advanced to the Division 3 sectional final game Tuesday, June 7, with a 5-3 win over Laona/Wabeno in the semifinals and finished the season at 14-11.
Pacelli 4, I-S 0
STEVENS POINT – The T-Birds couldn’t capitalize on the very few opportunities Pacelli gave them while the Cardinals took advantage of the few opportunities given to them.
Pitchers Morgan Oppor and Laura Raflik, who are summer travel league teammates and friends, had an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel. Raflik earned the win, as she allowed only one hit and three walks and struck out six batters, while Oppor allowed five hits and three walks and also finished with six strikeouts.
Pacelli, which will open play at state Friday, June 17, in Madison against Horicon, outhit I-S 5-1. Mary Marx had the only hit for the T-Birds, a bloop single to left field in the sixth inning.
The T-Birds threatened to score first in the first inning, as Oppor walked to lead off the game, advanced to second on a passed ball and went to third on a one-out sacrifice bunt from Mary Marx. However, a popup and strikeout left Oppor stranded at third.
Pacelli put runners on base in the first and second, but Oppor struck out four of the first batters she faced to put a stop to a Cardinal rally.
After a scoreless third inning for both teams, Pacelli scored two runs in the fourth and fifth. The Cardinals had a double and took advantage of an error to score two runs in the fourth. Three consecutive hits, including a run-scoring double from Raflik in the fifth, accounted for the two runs.
The only other scoring threat for I-S came in the sixth. Marx singled and Payton Erickson walked with two outs, but each were left stranded on a soft lineout by Whitney Tomczak.
“I thought we played well today and I would like to think Pacelli was a little surprised on how well we played,” coach Tom Anderson said. “We had a solid game plan offensively and defensively. The girls came in ready and confident that they could hit Raflik. We were hoping to score early and put the pressure on them, but we just couldn’t make it happen. Pacelli is an awfully good team. With their very good pitching and solid defense and offense, they should be very competitive at state and we wish them the best.”
I-S 5, Laona-Wabeno 3
GILLETT – The T-Birds scored all five of their runs in the first four innings and advanced to a sectional final for the first time since 1993.
Ironically, 1993 was the same year the team’s three seniors – Marx, Oppor and Teresa Sprangers – were born.
Oppor went the distance on a warm and windy day to earn the victory, allowing four hits and four walks while striking out 11 batters.
Marx and Oppor led I-S at the plate with three and two hits, respectively, as the T-Birds outhit the Rebels 11-4.
After a scoreless first inning, the T-Birds scored a run in the second. Tomczak singled, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kiara Boutwell, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on Sprangers’ infield groundout.
The T-Birds appeared ready to break the game wide open in the third. Amanda Aanstad, Oppor and Marx opened the inning with consecutive singles to load the bases. After a flyout by Payton Erickson, Aanstad scored on a single by Elle Maus. With the Rebel infield playing in, Oppor was called out at home on a close play on a groundball hit to the second baseman for the second out. A strikeout was a the third out, but the T-Birds had a 2-0 lead.
The T-Birds scored three more runs in the fourth, as Sprangers singled and pinch runner Danielle Schmidt scored on a single and an error on a ball hit by Natasha Buster. Aanstad reached on an error, Buster scored on a single by Marx and Aanstad scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Erickson to make the score 5-0.
Laona-Wabeno scored their three runs in the fifth inning, as three hits and two errors helped the Rebels cut the lead to 5-3.
Oppor struck out four of the final seven batters she faced in the game, including the final three batters of the game.
“We certainly had a nice run in the tournament,” Anderson said. “On behalf of the softball team, we would like to thank all the fans, parents and students who came out to support us or listened to us on the radio. Your kind words and notes of encouragement meant a lot to us.
“I would also like to mention that we will miss our three seniors, Mary, Morgan and Teresa,” he added. “They have been great young ladies on the softball field and more importantly in the classroom. You can tell that their parents and families have done a great job raising them.”