Originally Posted by Waukesha Freeman…
GREEN BAY — Catholic Memorial’s unheralded Crusaders are state champs.
Fourth-seeded Catholic Memorial scored twice in the top of the seventh to rally for a 5-4 victory Wednesday night over the previously undefeated Blackhawks in the Division 2 title game of the WIAA state softball tournament.
“We believed all along that could make it here, and then when we got here, we believed we were going to do it,” Catholic Memorial coach Brian Johnson said. “I told the umpire in the top of seventh, ‘We’re not worried about it, we’re scoring two.’” Baldwin-Woodville (22-1) had taken a 4-3 lead with two runs in the sixth.
Catholic Memorial, appearing in the WIAA state tournament for the first time, loaded the bases with three consecutive singles off Blackhawks ace Morgan Smetana to open the seventh. Abby Smith then dropped a bloop single into no-man’s land in shallow left to score both runs.
“With bases loaded and nobody out, I was glad I was able to do something,” Smith said.
The Crusaders then loaded the bases, but Smetana worked out of it with a force at home, a strikeout, and a ground out to second.
The Blackhawks got a runner aboard in the seventh when Trinity Mittl singled with one out. After taking a lead, she slipped going back to the bag and was picked off by catcher Cassie Smith.
“I just saw her slip and I was just praying she couldn’t get back,” Cassie Smith. “I think I was going to throw anyway, because I saw her get a far lead, then I saw her fall down. But, I was pretty glad to get out of it with two outs.”
Both Smetana and Abby Smith pitched complete game victories in the semifinals. Smetana, who struck out 18 in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win over Marinette earlier in the day, allowed five hits – four earned – on nine hits, striking out seven and walking three.
Abby Smith, a Winona State recruit, allowed four runs on 11 hits, striking out five with no walks in the final.
“It’s kind of surreal right now, but I think it will set in,” Abby Smith said. “This is also my last time playing high school softball, so that will definitely settle in after I get off the high of winning.”
Catholic Memorial, which finished 21-9, began the season 2-6 and finished fifth in the rugged Classic 8 Conference with a 9-7 mark against primarily Division 1 schools. Six of the Crusaders’ losses were by one run.
Baldwin-Woodville took a 4-3 lead with two runs in the sixth with the aid of three perfectly executed bunts and an error.
“The kids kept battling,” Baldwin-Woodville coach Tim Klatt said. “We were down one going into the bottom of the sixth and kept fighting. You’ve got to take hats off to Catholic Memorial – a heck of a hitting lineup.”
Catholic Memorial went in front 3-2 in the fifth. Ella Johnson walked to open and advanced on Claire Wright’s sacrifice bunt. Cassie Smith followed with an RBI single to center, taking second on the throw. Smith advanced on a passed ball and then came home on another passed ball.
After a weather delay of almost an hour at the start of the second inning, the Blackhawks pushed across two runs in the bottom half on three hits and an error.
The start of the game was delayed almost an hour because of rain, and then suspended again in the top of the second for almost another hour due to lightning and rain. In the opening semifinal, the Crusaders handed No. 1 seed Jefferson its first loss of the season, 4-3.
Catholic Memorial scored twice in the fourth inning to go in front 3-2 and then added a crucial insurance run in the seventh.
Jefferson, which finished 26-1, scored in the bottom half on a one-out single and RBI triple. Abby Smith then loaded the bases with a pair of walks around an infield pop out, but she came back to strike out the final batter on a full count.
Cassie Smith had two doubles, a triple and three RBIs, and Amelia Menheer drove in two runs for the Crusaders. Abby Smith allowed three runs on nine hits, striking out six and walking three.
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