On the surface, it all looked quite simple. Routine, even.
Let’s see: The pitcher threw a two-hitter and struck out 14. Two players delivered three hits each. The opposing pitcher yielded 11 walks and threw seven wild pitches.
But to hear 40-year Poynette coach Bob Tomlinson describe his team’s 7-0 victory over Prescott in a WIAA Division 3 semifinal on Friday at Goodman Diamond, the whole display was akin to a chalkboard full of softball trigonometry.
“To see us at our best, you’d have to have an astute knowledge of baseball or fast-pitch softball,” Tomlinson said after his 29-0, top-ranked and defending champion Pumas advanced to today’s 1 p.m. championship game against Campbellsport (17-7).
“People who really know this game will watch it well and see what we did.”
Tomlinson gave a few examples of the way his young-but-seasoned Pumas brought everything together:
- Junior pitcher Casey Fountain surprised the Cardinals’ batters by her frequent use of the rise pitch — which, Tomlinson said, most pitchers use only when going for a strikeout.
“They’re a free-swinging team, so we were throwing 70 to 80 percent rise balls today,” Tomlinson said, “with enough change-ups in there to keep their knees buckling in the dugout.”
Said Fountain: “I always know my team is behind me, and I’m pretty confident (because of that). On our T-shirts, it says ‘it takes grit,’ and that means sticking through and persevering.”
- Two-strike contact. Prescott sophomore Sydney Matzek managed only four strikeouts, and the majority of Poynette’s run-scoring contact took place with two strikes.
“They hit really well with two strikes (even though) we don’t change anything,” Tomlinson said. “If I had to teach them a different batting style with two strikes, I’d have to teach them two ways (to hit) and I have all I can handle to teach them one way.”
- Smart lineup moves. A week ago, Tomlinson told junior Mara Millard, a .349 hitter whose average ranks 11th among the Pumas’ regulars, that she’d be starting at first base on Friday.
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Millard responded with three base hits — a one-out line drive off the glove of shortstop Bella Lenz to start a four-run fourth inning, a bloop RBI single to left in the fifth and a sharp RBI single to the right side in the seventh.
“I was mentally preparing for this for a while, (but) you never know what’s going to happen when you get here,” Millard said. “I was always looking for a pitch to hit, to stay calm as always, and being patiently aggressive at the plate. … Everything clicked today.”
Poynette junior leadoff hitter Brianna Kowald played her role to perfection, as well, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and scoring a run. And the Pumas’ other hit came from pinch hitter Brianna Schulz.
“I was making a lot of moves out there, a lot of switching around,” Tomlinson said.
Prescott didn’t help its cause with all the walks, including one to Kowald with the bases loaded, and the wild pitches (plus one passed ball) that allowed three runs to score.
And after Cardinals freshman left fielder Ariana Temmers hit Fountain’s first pitch for a line-drive double to the gap in left-center, Prescott’s only other hit came when junior Faith Stiles hit an infield fly that three Poynette players surrounded — but none touched it as it bounced in the pitchers’ circle.
“We got tremendous pitching (but) we’ve got some work to do on defense,” Tomlinson said.
The coach planned a brief Friday evening practice to get his crew ready to take on Campbellsport in Poynette’s ninth title-game appearance and what would be its fifth title.
“They won a state championship as sophomores, and now they’re juniors,” Tomlinson said. “We’re always looking for better, every single day. That’s what you should do in your life anyway.”
Poynette 000 410 2 - 7 7 1
Prescott 000 000 0 - 0 2 1
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Po: Fountain (W; 7-2-0-1-14), Pr: Matzek (L; 7-7-3-11-4).
Leading hitters — Po: Kowald 3x4, Millard 3x3. Pr — 2B: Temmers.