The Milton High School softball team started off last season with a statement on its opening day, defeating Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker a combined 26-16 in a pair of Red Hawk wins.

This season, Milton started off with an exclamation.

The Red Hawks defeated Janesville Craig, 17-1, and then triumphed over Janesville Parker, 17-4, in a pair of season-opening games on Friday, March 29, at the Janesville Youth Sports Complex.

“When you open up on a short season like this, we don’t have a lot of time to prepare,” co-head coach Kurt Mussey said. “I’m very happy.”

“We went through one round, everyone had their jitters and you could tell their swings were a little bit different because they were nervous,” co-head coach Kristy Roherty said. “Then everyone got really comfortable.”

Milton 17, Craig 1

After two scoreless innings from both teams, the Red Hawks started to roll in the third.

Milton piled up nine runs in the top of third to take a commanding 9-0 lead.

The Red Hawks soon followed up with an eight-run fifth inning.

The Cougars got a single run in the bottom of the fifth inning, which ended the game after five innings thanks to the run rule.

Shay Anderson went 3 for 3 and Gia DiGennaro also collected three hits for the Red Hawks.

Tori Wurslin and Kelly Hanauska both picked up two hits to go along with 3 RBIs.

Senior Morgan Balch also collected two hits, including a double.

Sophomore Erika Reif picked up the win to go along with four strikeouts. Freshman Haley Reid pitched in her first high school innings, collecting the three final outs and earning a save.

Milton 17, Parker 4

The Red Hawks picked up where they left off against the Cougars versus the Vikings. Milton jumped ahead to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

With the bases loaded in the first, freshman Grace Schnell launched a ball to the top of the fence, inches away from a grand slam. The ball bounced back into play and Schnell had to settle for three RBIs and a triple.

Hanauska and DiGennaro also recorded RBIs in the inning to put Milton up 5-0 after the top of the first.

Reif once again got the start for the Red Hawks and went back to work against the Vikings. Through three innings of play, Parker was held scoreless.

In the top of the fourth inning, still up 5-0, Milton got some more breathing room with a six-run inning.

Four of the six runs in the inning came from one swing of the bat.

With the bases loaded, senior Laura Onsgard launched a pitch over the fence for a grand slam.

Down 11-0, the Vikings got their first run in the bottom of the fourth.

It looked like Reif and the Red Hawks would be in for a bit of trouble in the fourth with the bases full and with just one out, but Reif threw back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

After a Red Hawk run in the top of the fifth made it 12-1, the Vikings avoided the 10-run rule in the bottom of the inning with three runs to extend the game.

Milton responded with a five-run inning in the top of the sixth and the Red Hawks shutout the Vikings in the bottom of the inning to end the game in six innings.

Reif ended with 11 strikeouts in her complete-game performance.

“That was big stuff,” said Mussey regarding Reif’s 15 strikeout day. “We don’t do that without her doing what she did out there.”

Wurslin led Milton in hits against Parker with four.

In the two games combined, the Red Hawks recorded 28 hits.

“The entire lineup, from one to nine were rock solid,” Mussey said.

Milton played at Madison Edgewood on Tuesday, but results were not available by publication time. The Red Hawks will be back in action on Thursday against Stoughton at Milton High School. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

“We can’t always count on that many runs,” Roherty said. “Our motto this season is little things are going to take us where we want to go.”

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