New London girls lose to La Crosse Logan
By Scott Bellile
The New London softball team’s third consecutive state appearance ended dismally as the girls were unable to triumph over La Crosse Logan at the state softball semifinal at UW-Madison’s Goodman Softball Complex on Friday, June 12.
New London players said a one-day rain postponement plus a nearly three-hour delay caused by extra innings at preceding state semifinal games did not affect their mindsets. Both teams fought one another aggressively and kept the opponent’s number of runs low.
La Crosse Logan won 3-1 and went on to defeat Waupun 3-0 the next day to win the Division 2 state title.
“We kept our heads held high the whole time,” junior Bulldogs player Molly O’Connell said. “We kept fighting. It’s not like anybody had their heads down. We told ourselves before the game to just, after one mistake, you just forget about it, and that’s what we did. So there’s nothing we can be sad about.”
La Crosse Logan posted two runs in the third inning and one in the fifth, all batted in by pitcher Jordyn Kleman who went two for four at the plate. New London remained scoreless for the first six innings, but McCoy Mix hit a single in the bottom of the fifth and progressed to second base before the inning ended.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs’ outlook started to turn around as Payton Mix and O’Connell managed two hits that resulted in one run. O’Connell batted in Mix for the Bulldogs’ lone run and advanced herself to second base.
At that point the Rangers’ Kleman whirled her right arm into high gear and tossed three strikeouts to crush any chance of New London catching up.
“She’s a great pitcher,” Bulldogs Co-Head Coach Laura Turner said about Kleman. “She’s got a nice hit too during the game. I mean, we knew she was a great pitcher going into the game.
“But, you know, we fought right to the end,” Turner continued. “That’s what we do. We played our game as well. We had no errors on the board. We played great defense.”
Bulldogs pitcher Shelby Sommer and Kleman displayed strong pitching with 11 and 13 strikeouts, respectively.
Sommer said it was hard to lose as a senior after she and the Bulldogs won the championship her sophomore year in 2013, but it was still a great place to end the season.
“I’m more sad I think than mad that we lost,” Sommer said. “It’s been a really great run for us, especially as seniors, and I just don’t want it to end so short. But I’m really proud of all the girls.”
What she said did not bother her was listening to the loudest opposing fan section of the year cheer for the Bulldogs’ strikes and outs.
“It’s kind of cool having a big fan section like that, and it’s an experience that not all girls get to experience,” Sommer said. “So I’d say it’s not bad. I really like it, actually.”
Staying positive in tough times is crucial because there will inevitably be a game that doesn’t go a strong team’s way, according to Turner.
“There’s always going to be a really sad situation,” Turner said. “You just don’t know when it’s going to happen. So you’ve gotta stay optimistic. I’m very proud of New London softball.”
Graduated senior Alanna Beyer said Friday’s outcome was not what she had hoped, but she could not have asked for a better four years with New London softball.
“I will miss everyone,” Beyer said. “Our team chemistry has been amazing the past four years. And New London has built a heck of a program and they have a lot to look forward to in the future as well.”