STATE RUNNER-UP

The Sun Prairie softball team holds up the silver trophy after losing 4-2 to Oshkosh North in the WIAA Division 1 State Championship game.

MADISON — It took nine innings for Oshkosh North to defeat Sun Prairie 4-2, denying the Cardinals a repeat of the WIAA Division 1 state championship.

The top-ranked Spartans scored two unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning, making them stand up to win their first-ever state title while capping off a perfect 31-0 season.

“Second place is not bad,” said Sun Prairie head coach Jamie Olson. “Still being here to the end means we’re one of the top teams in the state of Wisconsin; it’s always wonderful to bring hardware home.”

Sun Prairie finished 27-4.

The two D1 powerhouses were all tied at 2-2 through eight innings when a pair of Cardinal errors occurred. The second error, a ball that went off the glove of center fielder Sabrina Reuter after the senior made a long run in an attempt to make the catch, allowed Mathena Higgins to score what would prove to be the game-winning run.

Oshkosh North, the top seed in the Division 1 field, added an insurance run as Sophie Averkamp singled in Brooke Ellestad.

Sun Prairie pitcher and University of Wisconsin recruit Maddie Gardner threw a remarkable 192 pitches in losing for just the fourth time all season.

“It was kind of like the situation we were in last year,” recalled Gardner. “We had nothing to lose.”

Gardner finished the tournament with 35 strikeouts, at one point she set a new D1 record by passing Appleton East’s Katie Karbon’s 2000 mark of 34, only to have it surpassed by her counterpart, North’s Sydney Supple (36).

Gardner finished the season with 340 strikeouts.

Gutsy base running produced the game’s first run. After hitting a one-out single, sophomore Grace Radlund went all the way to third on Reuter’s sacrifice bunt. Radlund then saw and opportunity and took it, stealing home when Averkamp lobbed the ball back to pitcher Sydney Supple and Radlund beat Supple’s return throw by diving under Averkamp for a 1-0 Sun Prairie lead.

The Spartans tied the score at 1-1 on a rare two-base wild pitch. With runners on first and second Gardner uncorked a high fastball which ricocheted off the backstop all the way past the Oshkosh North dugout, allowing Supple to score all the way from second.

The inning could have been over, but SP second baseman Leah Hamilton lost Neveau’s pop-up in the sun in foul territory. Neveau reached on an error two pitches later.

The rare moments continued in the Sun Prairie half of the third. After beating out an infield single freshman Chloe Knoernschild stole second, but the throw glanced off shortstop Brooke Ellestad’s glove into right field where Higgins bobbled it and Knoernschild, who never stopped running, was waved home by Olson for a 2-1 Cardinal lead.

North tied things back up at 2-2 in the fifth. After Gardner walked Higgins, the No. 9 batter, Supple drove her in with a single to center.

OSHKOSH NORTH 4, SUN PRAIRIE 2

Oshkosh North 001 010 002 — 4 8 3

Sun Prairie 101 000 000 — 2 4 4

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