NL softball heads back to state
Bulldogs make it 5 in a row
By Erik Buchinger
The New London softball team is headed to state for the fifth straight season following their 7-4 sectional final win against Denmark in Winneconne on Thursday, June 1.
The Bulldogs will play Turner in the WIAA Division 2 State Tournament semifinals on Friday, June 9 at approximately 4:30 p.m. in Madison.
“It’s hard to believe,” New London head coach Tony Porath said. “I remember the first time we got there, that was amazing and never thought we’d do it. Now it’s five times, and it’s hard to believe. You’re not supposed to do that. It is weird to imagine, but we’ll take it and we’re going to enjoy the experience.”
New London pitcher Leah Porath threw a complete-game and homered to help guide the Bulldogs back to Madison.
“It’s unbelievable,” Leah Porath said. “I’ve done this four times, which is unreal. People just wish to go once, and our teams have been able to go five times in a row, which is just crazy.”
New London scored the game’s first seven runs and scored two right away in the bottom of the first inning with run-scoring singles by Maddie Ruckdashel and Kate Christian. Both hits came with two outs.
Kali Rohan doubled off the wall and scored on a wild pitch in the second inning, and followed up with a solo home run in the fourth.
Rohan said she thought her first hit was was a home run off the bat.
“The first one on my double, I was kind of anticipating [a home run], but on the second one, I was just running,” Rohan said.
Leah Porath homered in the fifth inning, and she said she knew right away the ball was headed over the fence when she hit it.
“When I hit it, yes, I did know right away it was going out,” Leah Porath said. “Even Kali Rohan had one, and the whole team was hitting today, so that’s awesome.”
Leah Porath did not allow a hit until the fifth inning but ran into trouble in the sixth.
With New London leading 7-0, Denmark rallied for four runs and threatened for more with runners at the corners with just one out.
“Honestly, I was nervous,” Tony Porath said. “You could see she was getting tired out there, and momentum was on Denmark’s side.”
The next Denmark batter flew out, which was followed by Leah Porath’s strikeout to end the inning.
“I did get a little nervous, but I have a great defense behind me,” Leah Porath said. “I know that we’d pull through and get that third out to get out of the inning, and we did, so that’s good.”
The Bulldogs were held scoreless in the bottom of the sixth, but Leah Porath threw a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts to win the game.
New London players raced from the dugout to celebrate with teammates, and after things started to calm down, Tony Porath was congratulated with an ice water shower.
“That was cold,” Tony Porath said. “My daughter tricked me to get over there.”
Leah Porath distracted him by talking about how tired she was and how difficult the game was before Elise Sturgill and Josie Hintzke came from behind to douse him with a bucket of ice water.
“It’s fun doing that stuff,” Leah Porath said. “That’s kind of tradition for winning those big games, and it’s fun getting him wet like that.”
Even though it was cold, Tony Porath said he would be OK with another ice water bucket dumped over his head in the near future.
“I’ll take one more of those if we can do that in Madison,” he said.