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BREAKING -- Bay crushes Faith in playoff opener

May 27, 2010 | 07:17 PM
Williams Bay -- The Williams Bay softball squad had a score to settle Thursday night against Highway 67 rival Faith Christian.

Early in the season, the Eagles squeaked out a 10-9 victory over the Bulldogs. But the stakes were higher Thursday, with the Bay hosting a WIAA Division 4 regional.

Williams Bay exacted sweet revenge with a 13-7 thumping of Faith. The Bulldogs (14-7) will now advance to a regional semifinal Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Burlington Catholic Central.

The Bay jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and 8-1 in the third and never trailed. Faith cut the margin to three at 8-5, but the Bay pulled away with a three-run sixth inning. Bay senior Hannah Szalewski, who went the distance on the hill, experienced pain in her back in the fourth inning but recovered to shut down Faith the final three innings.

"I started to know where the hitters liked their pitches, and I didn't throw it there," she said. "You have to know your batters and just shut them down."

Coach Jeff Kuespert said his girls lost focus by letting Faith back in the game but bounced back nicely.

"Losing focus is unacceptable," he said. "It was a microcosm of the season. Fortunately, Hannah shored things up for us and got us out of some jams. We get up, then we get down. To win 14 games is a good season when you consistently start four freshmen and two sophomores. We got some good leadership tonight, and it was a team effort."

Faith (6-9) rallied for five unearned runs in the bottom of the third inning thanks to three Bay errors and a two-run double by Faith senior catcher Rae Brandes. Faith coach Dawn Brandes was happy with how the girls came back from an early deficit.

"We struggled pitching, but the girls fought and did some good base-running," said coach Brandes. "Becca (Brandes) was struggling a bit on the mound, and the umpire wasn't giving her a lot of calls. She was trying to work through it."

Faith hurler Becca Brandes had control issues all day, especially in the third, when she walked Kendra Sandberg and Alex Schingten with the bases loaded.

But the knockout blow from the Bay came in the sixth inning, when Alyssa Alheid's bunt single with one out and advancement to third on a throwing error started a three-run rally. Sandberg followed with an RBI single to left. Then, Szalewski dribbled a base hit up the middle. With two on, Sarah Mather spanked a double to deep right-center, plating Sandberg and Szalewski.

Sandberg, a senior, realized the significance of her last home game as a Bulldog.

"Today was a little hard for me, honestly," she said. "Even though nobody really said it, I realized it would probably be my last home game ever. I was kind of upset about it, it was sad. But I'm just focused on Catholic Central. I just want to end their season for once."

The Hilltoppers (15-4), currently ranked third in the state in the wissports.net coaches poll, have ended the Bay's season the last two years.

Beating Central is high on the priority list, but it will take some improvement.

"Whatever team shows up defensively will make all the difference in the world Tuesday," Kuespert said.

"If we want a win, it's probably Catholic Central more than anyone," Szalewski said. "We will have to come with focus, and there must be no messing around. Catholic Central isn't going to make many errors. They are a really tough team, and we'll have to come ready to play."

Check Thursday's Regional News for more from the Bulldogs.

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