WAUPUN – After the game, the Waupun prep softball team got into a circle and talked among themselves and the coaches.
There were some smiles, but mostly tears.
“Like I told them out there, ‘They’re champions and nobody can take that away from them,’” Waupun head coach Tom Hagstrom said of message to the girls following the second-seeded Warriors’ 5-2 loss to third-seeded Kewaskum in Friday’s WIAA Division 2 regional championship.
“(We) won the (East Central Conference) for the sixth time in a row,” Hagstrom added. “The expectations were always high.
“It’s a tough one when you can’t get it done.”
Waupun and Kewaskum had split the regular season series. The Warriors won the first time, 2-1 back on April 6, and then the Indians won 5-1 on May 3.
So in a way, the Warriors won the battle by virtue of winning the ECC title with a 13-1 conference record to the Indians’ 12-2 record, but Kewaskum won the war by ending Waupun’s season.
The Indians did it by playing great on offense against Waupun’s starting pitcher Megan VanRuiswyk, who went 6 ⅓ innings and allowed the five earned runs on nine hits and four walks while striking out eight.
“They’ve got great hitters,” Hagstrom said. “We’ve got to keep that leadoff (hitter) off (base). We were under pressure all day long. We played some pretty good defense. We made a couple mistakes and boy can they sure capitalize on them.”
Waupun was playing well on defense up until the fifth inning, when the Indians had runners on second and third. But with Maddie Geidel up to bat, Hagstrom took the conservative rout and walked her to load the bases.
“The strategy was to get the best hitter in the conference and not the one at the plate,” Hagstrom said. “They had a slapper coming up. The No. 3 hitter was a slapper and not necessarily a lot of power.”
The slapper formally known as Brittney Williams made Waupun pay by hitting a two-run double to left field that just got over Claire Harder’s glove to go up 2-0.
“If we’re able to catch that one, they’re not going to tag on that one,” Hagstrom said. “If they do then Harder is going to throw a BB to the plate.”
Unfortunately for the Warriors, that’s not what happened.
Danielle Hopp would cut the deficit to 2-1 when she scored off an RBI single by Kylle Hraban in the bottom of the fifth, though.
It was a heads up play by the senior at third base because while Hraban made it to first off an infield single, there was some confusion between the Indians’ first and second basemen. By the time one of them tagged the bag, Hraban had already touched the bag. While that was going on, no one was paying attention to Hopp, who caught them sleeping and headed home.
“She did that one herself and just scored that one,” Hagstrom said. “I was more looking at the play over (at first).
“That’s that senior experience. She’s been the first girl I ever had that started every game all four years.”
But in the sixth, the Indians took it to VanRuiswyk one more time. With two outs and a runner on third, Brianna Trepes hit an RBI single to left and later scored on a passed ball. Geidel doubled to left and Williams hit an RBI triple to center, and before anyone knew what happened, the Indians were up 5-1.
“We had a lot of strategies,” Hagstrom said. “We didn’t want their top hitter (Geidel) to beat us. She did get one big hit and of course we intentionally walked her. They beat us on a couple of plays like that quick little bunt that started their rally inning.
Geidel went 2-for-3 at the plate for the Indians while Trepes went 3-for-4 and Williams was 2-for-4.
While the Indians were strong at the plate, they were equally as good defensively because Kennedy Lehn brought her best stuff as she pitched all seven innings with eight strikeouts and five walks while only giving up two earned runs off of five hits.
“She just throws hard and it’s hard to adjust to that,” Hagstrom said. “We couldn’t get a few bunts down in a couple situations. We got base runners on, so we had some chances. We pushed two runs across, which is the most we’ve gotten on her this season.”
That second run Hagstrom is referring to came in the seventh inning when Hraban hit an RBI double to center to bring in Megen Gerber to cut the deficit to 5-2 with two outs.
It looked like Waupun was finally going to lay into Lehn, but a rally fell short after VanRuiswyk popped up to the shortstop to end the game.
“We tried to pile a lot of pitches on her and try to wear her down, and we kind of did that.”
KEWASKUM 5, WAUPUN 2
Kewaskum 000 023 0 - 5 9 1
Waupun 000 010 1 - 2 5 2
Pitching (ip-h-er-bb-k): K – Kennedy Lehn (W, 7-5-2-5-8). W – Megan VanRuiswyk (L, 6.1-9-5-4-8), Yvette Navis (0.2-0-0-0-1).
Leading hitters (two or more): K – Brianna Trepes 3x4, Maddie Geidel 2x3, Brittney Williams 2x4. W – Danielle Hopp 2x4, Kylle Hraban 2x4. 3B: K – Brittney Williams. 2B: K – Maddie Geidel 2, Brittney Williams. W – Kylle Hraban. RBI (two or more): K – Brittney Williams 3. W – Kylle Hraban 2.