Spartans play spoilers again
Laconia shuts out Indians in D3 final
By Greg Seubert
Now that Kayla Schwebke is moving on to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the Weyauwega-Fremont softball team has a better chance against Laconia.
Schwebke held the Indians scoreless for the fourth time in three seasons and pitched her team to a 5-0 win over W-F June 10 in the WIAA Division 3 state championship game in Madison.
The title is the third in a row for Laconia, which hasn’t lost a game since dropping a 10-4 decision to Winneconne on May 16, 2015.
Schwebke was on the mound earlier this season for the Spartans’ 7-0 win over the Indians during the regular season. She was also the winning pitcher in 1-0 wins in sectional semifinal games in 2015 and 2016.
W-F had advanced its first state championship game since 2009 June 9 with a 2-0 win over Marshall in the semifinals.
Although Schwebke struck out 10 batters and tossed a three-hitter in the championship game, five errors helped the Spartans keep runners on bases.
The Spartans stranded seven runners through the first three innings and had two of their first three batters of the game reach on an error.
“You can’t have five errors to beat a team like this,” coach Todd Breuer said. “You can’t have any errors. When they scored the first unearned run, that kind of took a lot of wind out of us. We knew we had to keep it close at the end to have a good chance.”
Laconia eventually loaded the bases in the first, but Kiley Akey got out of the inning without giving up a run.
The Spartans came up with a run in the second, as Hailey Bartz reached on a bunt single and moved to third base on an error and scored the game’s first run on another error.
Payton Kastenschmidt and Abby Luczak drove in two more runs for the Spartans in the fourth after Hannah Grahl singled and Caitlyn Tipton doubled.
Three more hits in the sixth off of reliever Cadyn Ehrenberg resulted in two more runs. Tipton tripled and Kastenschmidt and Schwebke singled.
“I thought she pitched awesome,” Breuer said of Akey, who gave up five hits and struck out four batters. “She was hitting her spots and her pitches were all working. That’s the best I’ve seen her throw her change-up all year. She had them off-balance. The defense just wasn’t able to come through, which gave her extra batters and long innings, which I think took a toll on her.
“I thought it was time to put our other pitcher in, who can throw hard and throw pretty well, too,” he said. “It was time to put her in and see if we can change things up.”
Ehrenberg had two of the Indians’ three hits with singles in the first and sixth. Hailey Krause had the Indians’ other hit, a double in the fifth.
Laconia had ended the Indians’ seasons in the Division 3 sectional semifinals in 2015 and 2016 with 1-0 losses. The Spartans also picked up a 7-0 win over W-F during the regular season.
“What a great team, what a great pitcher,” Breuer said. “To get at least one run would’ve been nice, but it didn’t go that way. We just couldn’t put the bat on the ball. It is what it is and that’s how it ends.”
Although the Spartans and Indians have competed in the same Division 3 sectional from 2014-16, that wasn’t the case this year.
“Personally, I thought we had a good shot (at getting to state),” Breuer said. “When the brackets came out last August and we saw Laconia on the other side, we were happy to see that. This doesn’t surprise me that we ended up down here playing against them in the last game. We really didn’t talk a lot about Laconia when the playoffs started. We had to take it one game at a time.”
W-F finished the season with a 22-10 record.
“This has been a dream of a lot of these girls for a long time,” Breuer said. “To make it this far, to play in this game, to accomplish everything they’ve accomplished is a great thing. They did a great job and should feel very proud of what they did. I know there are a lot of tears right now, but they’re going to realize very soon that they did a lot of great things this year. There’s nothing to be ashamed of here. This is a great group of kids.
“Kids have short memories,” he added. “They’re going to understand shortly that this is a special experience and this is something that they’ll never forget. They’re going to be very proud of taking second place against a very good team. Not many teams have beaten Laconia in the last couple of years, so they can feel very good about that.”
• The Indians weren’t the only Central Wisconsin 8 Conference team playing for a state championship. Pacelli shut out Shiocton, another CWC-8 team at state, 3-0 in a Division 4 semifinal before falling to Juda/Albany 2-1 in the championship game.
• Other state champions are Kaukauna in Division 1, Rice Lake in Division 2 and McDonell Central Catholic in Division 5.