Last week was a big one for the Waunakee softball team.
Not just on the scoreboard: yes, the Warriors did bounce back in a big way from their recent cold stretch, but even bigger was Friday’s Strikeout Childhood Cancer event.
With this spring’s less than cooperative weather, the event had to be postponed, but Waunakee finally held the event for the eighth year.
“Top to bottom, thanks to everybody coming together and making this event happen…” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Tammy Rademacher. “The boosters for all they did, Jim Sienko with everything he does with this event year after year, everyone coming out and supporting us, our grounds people… This is such a huge event, and they were able to pull this off; they just did an amazing job. I can’t thank them enough.”
The event raised thousands for the UW Foundation — Beat Childhood Cancer Fund. in an effort to fight childhood cancer.
The fans who packed the stands were treated to an extra-innings thriller when the Warriors took on the Thunderbirds of Baraboo.
Though there were some sporadic hits scattered throughout the first few innings, neither team could string enough of them together to break the scoreless tie until the fourth inning. In the circle, Ally Ronk didn’t strike anybody out through three, but instead relied on solid defense to secure outs.
Baraboo finally struck first in the bottom of the fourth, taking advantage of an early error to go up 1-0.
Waunakee’s response came in the fifth, when Ronk helped her own cause with an RBI single to score Avery Lehr. Caitlyn Kesilewski scored Sam Soulier in the next at-bat, and Waunakee suddenly had a 2-1 lead.
Trista Ripp extended the lead to 3-1 in the sixth with another RBI single, scoring Lexi Ripp.
Needing two runs to extend the game in the seventh inning, Baraboo delivered, scoring two runs with a line drive to center field.
The final out of the half-inning proved to be a huge one; Caitlyn Kesilewski delivered a throw to home plate, where catcher Chloe Fullenkamp held on after a collision to keep the game tied at three.
Waunakee went a quick 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, and the game pushed into extra innings.
Waunakee’s defense stepped up again in the top of the eighth. With two outs, the runner on first tried to steal second; Fullenkamp delivered the throw in time to end the threat and give Waunakee another chance for a walk-off.
The Warriors quickly delivered. With just one out, they managed to load the bases to bring Lehr to the plate. Lehr sent the first pitch she saw to left field, scoring Kaylyn King and ending the game.
“There were a lot of huge plays…” Rademacher said. “It feels great. These girls stick together; they finish, keep going until the very end, don’t give up. I’m very proud of them… This was an important one for us; we were tied with them for third. Now we’re holding third on our own.”
Lehr, Soulier, and Trista Ripp led the team with two hits apiece, while Ronk, Lehr, Caitlyn Kesilewski and Trista Ripp each accounted for one RBI.
Ronk allowed just two runs in eight innings of work, striking out two in the process.
Friday’s win was preceded by a victory against Sauk on Tuesday that snapped a seven-game skid.
Sauk Prairie 0
Her numbers may not have been overwhelming, Ronk was as good as ever against the Eagles. Through six innings, no Sauk Prairie batter advanced past first base, and Waunakee was able to build their lead as the game progressed.
Waunakee’s first run of the game came in the top of the second inning, when Trista Ripp scored on a double by Lehr. Waunakee struck again in the third when King hit a two-run shot out of the park, scoring herself and Ronk.
The lead was pushed to four runs in the fifth inning; Callie Kesilewski’s double scored Trista Ripp.
Up 6-0 in the bottom of the seventh following runs by King and Trista Ripp, Ronk got in trouble in the circle for the first time. It took only four pitches for the bases to become loaded.
Ronk settled in, striking out the next batter in three pitches. The Warrior defense then backed up their pitcher, securing the final two outs to seal the 6-0 win.
Ronk allowed no runs on six hits through seven innings, striking out four in the process.
Trista Ripp led all batters with three hits, followed by King, Callie Kesilewski and Alyssah Manriquez with two. King and Callie Kesilewski each totaled two RBI, as well.
Waunakee’s week came to a conclusion on Saturday with a doubleheader against Monona Grove.
Monona Grove 1
Briefly, the Silver Eagles did indeed hold the lead against Waunakee. In the top of the first, they scored the game’s first run.
That was about all Monona Grove could muster; Waunakee scored 17 runs over the course of four innings to bring game one to a quick end. The Warriors racked up 17 hits – including five extra base hits – in a constant barrage of offense.
Three Warriors – Caitlyn Kesilewski, Callie Kesilewski and Lexi Ripp – ended the game with three hits, and three more – Trista Ripp, Lehr and Soulier – accounted for two. Five Waunakee batters had multiple RBI, led by Lehr with four and Trista Ripp with three.
Ronk had another solid game at pitcher, allowing only three hits and one earned run in five innings.
Game two, while slightly more competitive, still wound up with the Warriors winning big.
Monona Grove 6
After four innings, Monona Grove had the game tied at four following two-run bursts in each of the first and third innings.
If the Silver Eagles were thinking they might steal the second game of the doubleheader, Waunakee removed any of those thoughts in the next two innings.
Just four at-bats into the fifth inning, Waunakee had a 7-4 lead, capped by a solo homer from Callie Kesilewski. The Warriors kept on rolling, adding another three in the fifth and then three more in the sixth, turning what was a 4-4 game into a 13-4 one.
Monona Grove had a pair of runs cross the plate in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t score enough to make it a close contest before the game was over.
Trista Ripp earned the win on the mound, striking out seven batters in seven innings, allowing four earned runs in the process.
King, Callie Kesilewski and Lehr led the team with three hits; Callie Kesilewski was also tops on the team with three RBI.
The four straight victories lift Waunakee’s record to 12-11 (7-5 Badger North) heading into Tuesday and Wednesday’s contests against Beaver Dam, the results of which were not available for this week’s edition. Waunakee’s final game of the regular season will take place on Thursday at Milton, with the start time scheduled for 5 p.m.
The WIAA playoffs will follow, starting on Tuesday, May 21. Waunakee’s playoff bracket has not yet been released; Waunakee should learn their first-round opponent when the WIAA does release the Division 1 brackets later this week.