This time of year, taking a loss is never easy.
On Tuesday, the Waunakee softball team held the lead for the majority of the game, but couldn’t quite close out Tomah, falling in their postseason opener.
Waunakee snagged an early lead in the bottom of the first. Caitlyn Kesilewski and Lexi Ripp both scored on wild pitches, followed up by a Callie Kesilewski run on an RBI single from Avery Lehr to go up 3-0 over the Timberwolves.
As the game wore on, it looked like those three runs were all Trista Ripp and the Waunakee defense needed. In the circle, Ripp had a shutout brewing through five innings.
Early on, the Warriors made the Timberwolves pay for any mistakes made; in addition to their early runs, a pickoff at third base in the fourth inning likely saved at least one Tomah run from crossing the plate.
“This time of year, tournament ball, no one’s going down without a fight,” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Tammy Rademacher. “They had fight in them.”
Tomah broke through offensively in the top of the sixth inning.
In a span of two pitches, Waunakee went from leading by three to trailing by one. First, a Tomah single with two runners on base cut the Warrior lead to 3-1. The very next at-bat, Tomah’s Abby Sherwood sent the ball over the centerfield fence to take a 4-3 lead over the Warriors.
Needing to cut into the lead, Waunakee was unable to advance any runners past first base in the bottom of the inning, and went into the seventh still trailing 4-3.
In the top of the seventh, Tomah tacked two more runs on the board, giving Waunakee a tall task in the bottom: score at least three runs to keep their season alive.
The half-inning wasn’t promising; nether of the first two Waunakee batters reached base. With two outs, Lexi Ripp started the potential rally with a two-out single, but the Warriors couldn’t capitalize. The final out of the game was recorded in the next at-bat, leaving Waunakee on the wrong end of the 6-3 score.
“[Tomah] got timely hits when they needed some,” said Rademacher. “We just couldn’t get more after those initial ones.”
Lexi Ripp led the Warriors with two hits, followed by Callie Kesilewski, Lehr and Alyssah Manriquez with one each. In a full seven innings of work, Trista Ripp allowed a total of nine hits and five earned runs, striking out three in the process.
“I feel the most for the seniors,” added Rademacher. “We didn’t want it to end this soon for them.”
The Warriors’ final record on the season stands at 14-13.
This year’s class of seniors – Caitlyn Kesilewski, Kaylyn King, Lexi Ripp, Sam Soulier, Chloe Fullenkamp and Ally Ronk – will leave some big shoes to fill, as all six were starters and significant contributors. Looking forward to 2020, Waunakee will need their younger players who made their impact felt early to progress into new leaders on the team.
“Our sophomores that saw a lot of time this year, they’ll be seeing tons of time next year,” said Rademacher “We’ve got some experience coming back, which will be good. We’ll be young, though.”