Westosha Central Sophomore Olivia Nahorniak is a fraction of a second late on the tag of Demons’ Gracie Peterson, who legs out a triple in the seventh inning Monday at Westosha Central (Mike Ramczyk/The Report).

Lampe bests former student, Demons to avenge last season’s sectional loss

By Mike Ramczyk

Long ago, in a Westosha Central High School economics classroom, softball coach Tom Lampe racked brains with knowledge of stock markets, balanced checkbooks and other stuff that probably shot straight over a lot of students’ heads.

Not Val Auseth.

Val Auseth, a former Falcons player, coached her first game against her former school on Monday when the Demons played at Westosha Central (Mike Ramczyk/The Report).

At the time, Val Kerkman was a bright, wide-eyed softball superstar, and perhaps a better student.

“Of course I did,” joked Auseth when asked if she got a good grade in Lampe’s class.

“I’m now coaching against former teachers. I had some family out here.”

Now the head coach in her first season for the defending Division 1 runner-up Burlington Demons, Auseth showed her coaching chops, but it was Lampe who had the last laugh.

Westosha held on to a 4-0 first-inning lead, Olivia Kazamura pitched through adversity and the Falcons persevered for a pivotal Southern Lakes Conference victory Monday evening at Sorensen Field in Paddock Lake.

Lampe beamed with pride seeing a former student follow in his footsteps.

“I’ve known Val for a long time,” Lampe said. “I am proud and I knew when she got the job, they were going to get good, fast.”

“We needed the win more than Burlington. After last week against Wilmot, we had to make sure we got one.”

Last week, Wilmot, the Falcons’ Kenosha County rival, took a 5-0 lead and held on to a 7-5 victory, much like Central did to Burlington.

Two weeks into the season, Lampe is convinced there is no clear-cut favorite in the SLC, where it’s been nine consecutive seasons dating back to 2010 where a team has advanced to the state tournament.

“This is a wide-open conference,” Lampe said. “I think a young Burlington squad has a good shot. I was impressed with the young Klein girl (pitcher Morgan Klein). I think they beat a good Elkhorn team.”

“She moves the ball well and adjusts to the strike zone. This is the toughest pitcher we’ve faced all year. We’ve been averaging 10 or 11 hits a game.”

Central got the jump with a four-run first, helped in part by a couple Demon errors.

Burlington finished with three errors to Central’s zero.

Molly Grabarec had a few hits and broke out of a season-long slump, and Karley Odejewski also put the pressure on Klein at the top of the order, according to Lampe.

Dana Herman added two hits and an RBI.

Kazamura was nearly unhittable early, crusing to a 4-0 lead with an overpowering high fastball. She finished with 13 strikeouts and allowed only four hits.

“I know I just needed to keep my composure and stand tall,” Kazamura said. “We just really wanted the win today.”

“It’s been a good season. We’re on the right track to being better than we were last year. We need to keep the same energy throughout the game moving forward.”

Kazumura referenced a troublesome fifth inning, where the Demons cut the 4-0 lead in half.

Natalie Weithaus singled up the middle, Klein walked and Gracie Peterson banged a double down the left-field line, and suddenly it was a game.

But ‘Kaz,’ as her teammates affectionately call her, struck out Bridi Allen, the Demons’ biggest power threat, to end the inning.

Central added an insurance run in the sixth to go up 5-2, but the Demons weren’t done knocking on the door.

Kazumura extinguished a bases-loaded jam with two down in the sixth to preserve the three-run lead.

In the seventh, Peterson doubled off the fence in left, but Kazamura got out of it, this time with a high fastball that struck out Caitlyn Matson swinging to end the game.

“I told the girls to be more selective with our pitches,” Auseth said. “We got more patient, and we started to get walks and make contact. We had base-runners all game, and eventually some of our line drives are going to fall.”

“We’re right in it with everyone else. This is the first actual softball day. I don’t think we can overlook anybody, and I don’t anyone can overlook us.”

Lampe says the SLC is still as strong as ever.

“We play a good schedule,” he said. “I’m our district rep, and I know we’re well-respected in this corner of the state and up North.”


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