GREEN BAY — The top-ranked Jefferson softball team’s bid for an unbeaten season came to a heartbreaking end Wednesday.
The Eagles left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning as pitcher Abby Smith struck out Julia Ball on a full count with the bases loaded to give Waukesha Catholic Memorial a 4-3 victory in a WIAA Division 2 semifinal at UW-Green Bay’s King Park.
Jefferson (26-1) had earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament after averaging 11.7 runs per game with a team batting average of .424. But Smith and the Crusaders (21-9), who play in the Division 1 Classic 8 Conference, forced Jefferson to strand nine baserunners, seven in scoring position.
The Eagles did get some key hits. Aidyn Messmann tripled home two runs for a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third, and Brittany Mengel hit an RBI triple to center in the seventh to make it a one-run game. Jefferson outhit Catholic Memorial 9-8, with Eden Dempsey getting two singles.
But Catholic Memorial got an all-important insurance run in the top of the seventh, thanks to an RBI triple by Cassie Smith, who went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs, and pitcher Smith delivered under pressure in the seventh.
- In the championship game, Catholic Memorial scored twice in the top of the seventh inning and turned in a big defensive play in the bottom of the seventh to hand second-seeded Baldwin-Woodville (22-1) a 5-4 loss.
Pitcher Abby Smith hit a two-run bloop single to left-center field with the bases loaded and none out in the seventh, answering a two-run Baldwin-Woodville rally in the bottom of the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh, Trinity Mittl hit a one-out single but was picked off first on a throw by Crusaders catcher Cassie Smith. A strikeout ended the game.
In the other semifinal, Baldwin-Woodville pitcher Morgan Smetana struck out 18, second-most in Division 2 history and most in a seven-inning game, in a 4-1 victory over Marinette (20-6). Smetana walked one and gave up four hits.