Sectionals three-peat carries Bulldogs to state
New London softball team defeats Luxemburg-Casco
By Scott Bellile
The New London girls’ softball team nabbed its third consecutive trip to state after defeating Luxemburg-Casco 6-2 at the sectional final hosted by Shawano High School on Thursday, June 4.
“Winning the game is one thing, but winning against Luxemburg-Casco, that’s an even bigger deal for us,” Bulldogs Co-Head Coach Laura Turner said. “We struggled through the season making sure that we post great games against Luxemburg-Casco.”
The win secured New London softball’s fourth trip to state overall. New London previously went in 2005, 2013 and 2014. They lost to Portage in 2005, defeated Baldwin-Woodville in 2013, and lost to Mosinee last year.
Bulldogs pitcher Shelby Sommer started last Thursday’s sectional final strongly by slamming a two-run homerun at the bottom of the first inning to bat in Alanna Beyer and herself. Sommer said she darted to first base unaware she hit a homerun until she heard the ball slam the scoreboard.
Luxemburg-Casco tied things up at the top of the second inning with a two-run homerun of their own, but New London’s Ashley Moeller batted in Leah Porath at the bottom of the inning to regain the lead. Luxemburg-Casco failed to add more runs for the remainder of the game.
New London continued on as Sommer executed another powerful hit in the third inning to bring home Molly O’Connell. Then in the fifth inning the Bulldogs posted their final runs as Porath and Abby Elsholtz batted in Tori Starcheske and Beyer.
Luxemburg-Casco loaded up its bases toward the end of the game but failed to score runs.
Co-Head Coach Tony Porath was overwhelmed by the Bulldogs’ return to state, especially knowing Luxemburg-Casco would pose a challenge.
“I’m still numb,” Porath said immediately after the win. “But now it’s like, three times in a row. It’s unbelievable. All the way through our regional it was so hard, too, and then we get these guys, and they’re one of the top teams around.”
Sommer pitched a complete game four-hitter, striking out 11 batters. She made two errors and gave up two runs including a home run.
“I didn’t want this game coming into it,” Sommer said. “We’ve always been really close with L-C every game we’ve played. It just feels so good to beat them.”
To get to the sectional final, the Bulldogs defeated Adams-Friendship 12-2 in an explosive sectional semifinal in Little Chute on June 2.
The Bulldogs scored five runs in the first inning alone, then tapered in the middle with a two-run fourth inning and a one-run homer by Beyer in the fifth. Adams-Friendship meanwhile crept onto the scoreboard with one run in the third inning and another in the sixth. The Bulldogs struck back in the bottom of the sixth with four runs to end the game.
New London may not be the underdogs of the softball diamond, having earned their third consecutive trip to state. But their community rallies behind them, rooting for them at their away games and displaying congratulatory messages outside their businesses.
“We’re representing not only our hometown, but we’re representing ourselves and the girls’ parents and the fans and everybody,” Turner said. “Just knowing that we’ve been able to continue that on for the last three years is awesome.”
At the June 2 sectional semifinal the Bulldogs even made a new fan out of Marissa LaBrec, a 6-year-old Little Chute girl donning a unicorn bicycle helmet. She pedaled to Little Chute High School with her father Craig to check out the commotion.
“Who’s winning?” Marissa asked, peering through the fence.
“New London, the red team,” Craig replied.
“Yes!” Marissa cheered.
“Why do you want red to win?” Craig asked.
Marissa responded confidently, “Because that’s my favorite color.”
The Bulldogs will wear their red jerseys once again at the Division 2 state semifinal against La Crosse Logan, scheduled for 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 11, at Goodman Diamond in Madison. If New London wins then they will advance to the Division 2 championship game at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, at the same location.