Sometimes, one swing of the bat can be the difference.
For the Waunakee softball team, that swing came on in the third inning on Monday against Sauk Prairie, off the bat of Caitlyn Kesilewski.
Sauk Prairie 4
Down 3-1 in the bottom of the third, Waunakee needed a spark. Kesilewski provided exactly that with a leadoff home run, breathing life into the Warrior offense.
“Our team feeds a lot off how we do as hitters,” said Kesilewski. “We play solid D, but we get really excited about our hitting.”
The rest of the team responded, collecting four more hits, two walks, and three extra runs through the rest of the inning to take back the lead from the Eagles. Scoring runs after Kesilewski were Lexi Ripp, Callie Kesilewski, and Avery Lehr.
After the inning was out, the Warriors held a 5-3 advantage, which was narrowed to 5-4 following the top of the fourth, when Sauk Prairie manufactured a run.
Waunakee secured an insurance run in the sixth when pinch-hitter Lauren Smithback hit an RBI double to score Trista Ripp from second base.
Ally Ronk did the rest, striking out the final two batters of the game after a groundout to end Sauk Prairie’s comeback attempt.
After getting in trouble early, surrendering three runs in the first inning, Ronk pitched a steady final six innings to earn the win for the Warriors.
“[Sauk Prairie] came out very aggressive and were able to put the ball in play a few times; you string a couple together and you can get some runs,” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Tammy Rademacher. “[Ally] settled down really nicely; Chloe [Fullenkamp] called a great game behind the dish and had some nice defensive plays as well.”
Ronk struck out a total of seven batters in seven innings, allowing just one earned run on the day.
Caitlyn Kesilewski led all batters with three hits, followed by Callie Kesilewski, Trista Ripp, and Sam Soulier with two each. Trista Ripp scored twice, and Caitlyn Kesilewski, Trista Ripp, Avery Lehr, Alyssah Manriquez, Smithback, and Ronk accounted for one RBI each.
Though the Warriors did get the win, their coach expressed concern over the 11 runners left on base throughout the game.
We left a lot of runs out there…” Rademacher said. “A lot of our games have been one-sided one way or the other… Close games like this are really good for the team. We were down right away; we could have panicked. I like how our girls are responding.”
The win on Monday was preceded by a much less tense contest the previous Tuesday at Baraboo.
An eight-run second inning removed any suspense from Waunakee’s game against the Thunderbirds. The Warriors got runs from Trista Ripp (twice), Lehr, Sam Soulier, Caitlyn Kesilewski, Kaylyn King, Lexi Ripp and Callie Kesilewski to open up the 8-0 lead over Baraboo.
Ronk turned in one of her best performances pitching so far this year, tossing a two-hit shutout.
Waunakee added runs in the third and sixth inning from Caitlyn and Callie Kesilewski to bring the lead to 10 runs, ending the game early.
King and Trista Ripp led the team with 3 RBI, followed by Lehr with two. Trista Ripp also led the team with three hits, while Caitlyn Kesilewski, King, Callie Kesilewski and Lehr each had two.
The pair of wins brings Waunakee’s record to 7-4 (4-2 Badger North) heading into this week’s slate of games. The Warriors played another game at home on Tuesday, this time against Mount Horeb, the results of which were not available for this week’s edition. Waunakee now hits the road for a Thursday contest at Portage followed by a Saturday doubleheader at Oregon.