WAUPUN – Gray, ominous clouds covered the sky. A cold breeze blew. And light rain fell.
Not the kind of weather meant for playing ball.
But Beaver Dam’s and Waupun’s prep softball teams played nonetheless.
And they didn’t disappoint as far as dramatic endings go, with BD scoring a pair of unearned runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game before Waupun answered with an unearned run of its own – on an intentional walk mishap, of all things – to claim a 4-3, walk-off win.
With the fall-like weather and the critical mistakes late, it certainly felt like the first game of the year.
“Yeah, it did,” Waupun head coach Tom Hagstrom said.
Still, it wasn’t all bad.
BD pitcher Madison Jansen struggled with her control in the early going, issuing four walks and throwing two wild pitches which ultimately resulted in three-run inning for Waupun.
But she reined it in after that and lasted into the third, stopping the bleeding to help keep Waupun stuck on three runs until the seventh.
“It’s so not like Madison to come out like that, she’s usually pretty steady,” BD head coach Tim Ladron said. “She had a little bit of jitters today for whatever reason, but I thought she competed well.”
She did. And it showed at the plate, where she had a hard-hit groundout and a single to left to go 1-for-2.
“And that says a lot about her mental toughness – struggling in the circle like she was and then she gave us two really good at-bats to give us a chance,” Ladron said.
Jansen’s at-bats weren’t part of any run-scoring rallies, but BD did cut into the lead in the top of the second when Grace Scharfenberg reached on an error and later came around to score on an RBI single by Ally Engel that made it 3-1.
After Jansen left with a runner on first and no one out in the third, Natalie Krezinski came on in relief and through the sixth inning allowed only three hits and a walk while striking out five to keep it at 3-1.
That allowed the Golden Beavers to rally in the seventh, loading the bases on a one-out single by Scharfenberg and back-to-back two-out walks by Kara Crowley and Engel.
Krezinski then followed and reached on a throwing error that allowed Scharfenberg and Crowley to score, tying the game at 3-3.
But a wild pitch when BD was intentionally walking Waupun clean-up batter Megan Van Ruiswyk with first base open allowed Megan Gerber to get from second to third, and a throwing error trying to get Gerber at third on the same play allowed her to score the winning run.
The first and seventh innings were BD’s only hiccups, though.
“Other than that I thought we were pretty sharp defensively, which is good to see,” Ladron said.
Meantime, Waupun’s hiccups were in the second and the seventh – yielding three unearned runs.
But Van Ruiswyk allowed only three hits on the evening while walking only two – both in the seventh – and striking out five.
She was good enough for the Warriors to skate by.
“She did a great job throughout the game, keeping them off balance and hitting her spots,” Hagstrom said. “They’re a tough team – they’re a solid squad.”
“She’s a good pitcher,” Ladron added. “It’s just unfortunate we gave them too many runs (with our mistakes).”
WAUPUN 4, BEAVER DAM 3
Beaver Dam 010 000 2 – 3 3 2
Waupun 300 000 1 – 4 5 2
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-k): BD – Madison Jansen (2+-1-3-6-1), Natalie Krezinski (L, 4.1-4-0-1-5). Waupun – Megan Van Ruiswyk (W, 7-3-0-2-5).
Leading hitters (two or more hits): BD – None. Waupun – Hailey Pluim 2x3. 2B: Waupun – Haley Pluim.