Wilmot senior Riley Regnier, shown here hitting a home run against No. 3 Janesville Craig, belted two more in Thursday’s sectional final to help the Panthers to an 11-9 win (Earlene Frederick/The Report).

No. 2 Wilmot, No. 1 Westosha Central club 10 home runs

By Jason Arndt
Editor

Before Wilmot Union High School started its softball season, the team came up with Unfinished Business as its motto, Panthers coach Jenny Jacobson said.

The motto sought to describe a team with a mission to show the community what they are capable of and refusal to give in to opponents.

Down 9-3 to No. 1 seed Westosha Central in Thursday’s WIAA Division 1 sectional final, the No. 2 seed Panthers held true to their motto, scoring eight runs in the fifth and sixth innings to come away with an 11-9 defeat of their Kenosha County rivals.

“These girls never gave up, they battled the whole time,” Jacobson said. “It wasn’t looking good at one point (in the game).”

With the sectional title, the Panthers head to the state tournament for the first time since 2011, when they reached the state championship game.

Panthers senior Riley Regnier, who belted two of the contest’s 10 home runs, said Thursday’s win was indicative of the team’s motto.

“It feels great, we have worked so hard in practice and earned this,” said Regnier, who went 2-for-3 with four RBIs to go along with her two home runs. “We did not give up at all.”

For the Falcons, however, the loss denies them of a state tournament appearance for the second straight season.

According to Westosha Central co-coach Tom Lampe, the Falcons struggled to work the pitch count, the strength the Panthers possessed in Thursday’s contest at Burlington High School.

“We weren’t getting ahead in counts and they were,” Lampe said. “(Wilmot) had a great game, they did a nice job, they worked counts.”

“They got in to a position where they could drive the ball,” he added.

Panthers senior Taylor Danielson was in more than just a position to drive the ball in the top of the sixth inning.

In the sixth inning, with Wilmot down 9-8, Danielson hit the eventual game-winning three-run home run to pull the Panthers ahead 11-9.

Danielson, who went 4-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs, attributes a strong vision for Thursday’s performance.

“I think I am seeing the ball really well, and for sure, I was seeing the ball really well today,” said Danielson, adding the trip to state excites her.

“It feels really good, I am really excited, this team deserves it,” she said.

Early stalemate
In the second inning of a scoreless game, Regnier gave the Panthers a 1-0 edge on a solo home run, but Westosha Central jumped ahead in the bottom half with a junior Andrea Edquist two-run home run.

The following inning, Panthers sophomore Madison Zerr led off with a double and eventually scored on a Danielson double to bring the contest to a 2-2 deadlock.

Falcons surge in third, fourth
The Falcons, however, produced a five-run bottom of the third inning, courtesy of a sophomore Becca Edwards’ grand slam and an Edquist solo home run to give Westosha Central a 7-2 lead entering the fourth inning.

Edquist, who went 3-for-3, led the Falcons with three RBIs.

In the fourth inning, Panthers junior Annalise Devall hit a home run to cut the Falcons lead to 7-3.

Westosha Central senior Kira Mickelson responded the next frame with a two-run home run to pull the Falcons ahead 9-3 after four innings.

Mickelson went 2-for-4.

Despite allowing nine earned runs, Panthers senior pitcher Sarah Hutchinson persevered the last three innings, where she shut down the Falcons.

“Sarah stayed up, she did not let anything get to her,” Regnier said. “She knew what she had to do stay composed the whole time and that is what she did.”

Hutchinson logged seven innings where she allowed 11 hits and walked four.

Meanwhile, for the Falcons, they decided to swap pitchers midway through the Panthers’ five-run top of the fifth inning.

Wilmot charges back
The Falcons saw its six-run lead shrink to 9-8 in the fifth inning, courtesy of solo home runs by junior Montana Platts and Danielson, followed by a Regnier three-run home run.

In the midst of the Panthers’ five-run rally, Lampe lifted sophomore starter Olivia Kazumura in favor of senior Alyssa Hrncar, who gave up the home run to Regnier.

Hrncar, who started the sixth inning, allowed a single to junior Hayli Richards and a walk to Platts.

With two runners on, Danielson came to the plate, where she hit the decisive three-run home run.

Danielson, noting the Falcons pitching struggles, knew what to expect in a hitter’s count.

“My two home runs were on 3-1 pitches and they were down the pipe and I saw the change and went right for it,” Danielson.

After Danielson’s home run, Lampe sent Kazumura back to the mound, where she secured the last out of the sixth inning.

Kazumura struck out four, walked four and allowed six earned runs on eight hits through six total innings.

In one inning, Hrncar had five earned runs, allowed three hits, walked two and struck out one.

While No. 2 seed Wilmot prepares for the state tournament, the Falcons loss concludes the careers of five seniors, Hrncar, Mickelson, Olivia Klean, Carrie Weis and Sarai Roberts.

“I am going to miss them, several of them played four years for us,” Lampe said. “They got in at the height of everything when we won state.”

Wilmot jumped to 20-4 overall while the Falcons end their season at 21-6.

 
 

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