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Monroe rides fast start to rout of New Berlin West in Division 2 softball semifinals
WIAA STATE SOFTBALL | MONROE 10, NEW BERLIN WEST 2

Monroe rides fast start to rout of New Berlin West in Division 2 softball semifinals

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Olivia Bobak had trouble sleeping Thursday night.

The senior right-handed pitcher kept thinking about what was to come Friday and how excited she was to play in the Monroe softball team’s first appearance at the WIAA state tournament in six years.

Bobak and the top-seeded Cheesemakers were aggressive right from the start, scoring four runs in the first inning and two more in the second inning en route to a 10-2 victory over fourth-seeded New Berlin West in a Division 2 semifinal Friday night at Goodman Diamond.

“I was just so excited to play and just be here, especially being a senior,” Bobak said. “I wanted to get as far as we could. Of course, state was our goal, but since we’re here, we might as well win it.”

Bobak, who had five of her 11 strikeouts in the first two innings and drove in three runs, and sophomore shortstop Sydney Updike, who had three of her team’s 12 hits, led Monroe (23-4) into the championship game against second-seeded Seymour (25-1) at 4 p.m. Saturday. Seymour edged third-seeded Ellsworth 4-2 in the first semifinal.

“It felt really nice out there today,” Bobak said. “Everyone was doing their part, which is super nice. I thought everyone was working together today. I felt everyone was on. No one was off. We were all doing really great things.”

It was the most runs Monroe has scored in a state tournament game. Leadoff hitter Alyse Mauer, a sophomore second baseman, scored three times and was one of seven Cheesemakers credited with at least one hit. Bobak, sophomore catcher Katie Hayes and freshman right fielder Sloane Ambrose each had two hits.

“We came out with the sticks,” Monroe coach Joe O’Leksy said. “We struck the ball well, and they went through three pitchers. … We hit all three of them, which was awesome.

“We talked about being aggressive early in the count. We actually were pretty patient at the beginning, which was good. Eventually, we were definitely being more aggressive on the first pitch. We were striking balls hard.”

Bobak limited the Vikings (22-4) to five hits. Vikings junior catcher Kat Burkhardt, who entered hitting .694 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs, had two hits, including a double, but didn’t drive in any runs.

The Cheesemakers were on their way after scoring four runs on three hits and one error in the bottom of the first inning.

“I think you can come out here and have a lot of errors and be nervous,” O’Leksy said. “But for a team that has five sophomores and a freshman that start, I thought they were very seasoned. They looked very calm. … Yes, I hope this carries us into tomorrow. We just don’t look ahead, at all.”

Mauer and senior center fielder Hailey Betthauser walked to open the first inning and both scored with one out when New Berlin West sophomore first baseman Emily Stange couldn’t handle Bobak’s hot grounder, which was ruled a hit.

Hayes drove in the Cheesemakers’ third run against New Berlin West starter Andrea Kuhne with a single to left and sophomore third baseman Lizzie Snider knocked in another run with a groundout.

Updike lined a two-run double to the right-center gap — driving in Mauer, who walked, and Betthauser, who singled. That boosted the Cheesemakers’ lead to 6-0 in the second inning.

“Surprisingly, I didn’t feel as nervous as I thought I would,” Updike said. “I felt really comfortable.”

Freshman shortstop Elena Barnes got the Vikings on the board with an inside-the-park homer in the top of the third. Barnes’ fly ball into the left-field corner carried over the head of Monroe sophomore left fielder Sarah Prien and the speedy Barnes beat the relay home.

New Berlin West rallied within 6-2 in the fourth, but Monroe answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning.

Bobak’s triple into the right-field corner scored Updike, who had singled with one out. Hayes greeted Vikings reliever Ella Wyshochil with a run-scoring single. Ambrose followed with an RBI single, increasing the Cheesemakers’ lead to 9-2.

The performance buoyed Monroe’s confidence entering the title game.

“It definitely does, especially winning by that much,” Updike said. “We were really confident that we could do this. We were definitely nervous coming into it. You never know what can happen. But I feel like we know we can do it tomorrow.”

O’Leksy said the Cheesemakers reached goals to win the Badger South Conference (sharing the title with Watertown), earn regional and sectional crowns and advance to state.

“Now we talked about that we wanted to get hardware and we got that,” O’Leksy said. “Now we want it to be gold.”

It will be Monroe’s most recent title game appearance since 2012.

Monroe, making its eighth state appearance and first since 2013, won the Division 2 state championship in 2003. The Cheesemakers have four runner-up finishes, the most recent in 2012.

New Berlin West 001 100 0 — 2 5 1

Monroe 420 310 x — 10 12 1

Pitchers — (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Kuhne (L; 3.1-8-8-4-1), Wyshochil (1.2-4-1-0-1), Barnes (1-0-0-0-0); Bobak (W; 7-5-1-4-11)

Leading Hitters — M: Updike (3x4), Bobak (2x4), Hayes (2x4), Ambrose (2x4). 2B — Updike. 3B — Bobak, Maurer. NBW — Burkhardt (2x4), HR — Barnes.

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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.

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