OREGON — Beforehand, Oregon seniors Megan Bloyer and Amelia Spilde talked about making Thursday night’s meeting with Badger South Conference leader Monona Grove a game they’d cherish.
Afterward, the Oregon softball team’s two seniors — friends since they began in softball together when they were 10 — were recognized for their contributions to the program following their final home conference game.
And the battery mates could enjoy that ceremony knowing they played key parts in Oregon’s 7-5 victory over Monona Grove.
Bloyer, the Panthers’ catcher, had two hits and knocked in two runs, and starting pitcher Spilde struck out six during a complete-game victory and also drove in a run.
“(Spilde) is my best friend, so this whole season has been really memorable for us and really important,” Bloyer said. “Just sharing this night with her and the rest of the team and being able to pull out a win was really special and something I will remember forever. … It is a nice closing to it all. We are both going on to play in college, so it’s a nice way to close out this chapter and start a new one together, as well.”
Oregon (10-10, 8-5 Badger South) rallied from a 2-0 third-inning deficit, scoring a run in the bottom of the third and three times each in the fourth and sixth innings.
All was not lost for Monona Grove (15-4, 10-3), which closed within the final margin with three runs in the seventh inning.
By virtue of Madison Edgewood’s victory over second-place Watertown on Thursday night, Monona Grove clinched the outright conference title with one league game remaining.
“I appreciate anything Edgewood can do for us. … They are hot. That is a timely win for them, and we’ll take it,” said Chris Uschan, the Silver Eagles’ co-coach with Jim Mayfield. “We have a lot of experience on this team. A lot of these girls have been playing since they were young. I have coached eight or nine of these kids since they were 10 years old, and so has coach Jim. These kids have put in a lot of work over the time.
“We didn’t even pick captains at the beginning of the season. We felt the team was just going to come together and we were going to become who we are because of who we are, and, `Why not us?’ Once they started believing, they realized that ‘This is our show and it’s going to be tough to beat MG.’ Tonight, Oregon was the better team.”
It was a significant turnaround for the Silver Eagles, 4-13 in 2019. The 2020 season wasn’t played due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monona Grove junior left fielder Emma Lee, who entered the game hitting .623 with eight homers, collected three hits, including a double, and drove in four runs — giving her 39 RBIs and improving her batting average to .631.
“It’s like magic,” Uschan said. “We just kind of smile. I don’t know if it’s an expectation at this point. It’s like, `Wow, this kid keeps hitting the ball.’ She’s hitting like .620. Do you know how hard it is to hit .500?’’
Lee drove in the game’s first two runs with a third-inning hit. But the Panthers clawed back, scoring the next seven runs.
Bloyer’s groundout scored Oregon’s first run in the third. In the fourth inning, freshman Lauryn Etienne tied the game with a run-scoring double, then junior Jordan Baumgartner drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out infield hit. Bloyer’s RBI-single gave Oregon a 4-2 lead.
Junior Emma Eisele’s two-run single to left drove in two runs in the Panthers’ three-run sixth inning.
Bloyer has become Oregon’s all-time leader in hits, doubles and homers and also leads with most homers in a single season (with eight, she said). She plans to play softball at Concordia University in Mequon, while Spilde committed to St. Mary’s University (Minnesota).
“We have two seniors who are trying to share as much as they can with all of these people,” Oregon coach Scott Mirkes said. “Some days we are on it and it looks like the team that I know we can be, and some days we are growing.”