By Dan Truttschel ~ Sports Correspondent

When Westosha co-head softball coach Tom Lampe looked at the Falcons prior to 2012, he had a feeling that something good may be brewing.

And not just something good, something great.

Turns out, he was right – and the Falcons are on the verge of making some history.

Central earned its first WIAA Division 1 State Tournament berth since 1997 last Thursday afternoon with a 4-1 win over Southern Lakes Conference rival Union Grove in a sectional final played at Wilmot.

The win improved the Falcons to 22-6 overall heading into a quarterfinal matchup with Appleton East at Goodman Diamond, Madison, Thursday morning. A state tournament preview appears elsewhere in this edition.

Union Grove, last year’s Division 2 state champion, ended the year at 20-5 overall.

The sectional title marked another steppingstone in a season-long process, Lampe said.

“The second step is done,” he said. “It was conference, then get to state and win it. If you view yourself as a program that should be recognized, you have to think that way.

“If we don’t start it as coaches, it’s not going to happen. We’ve put that in their head all year long. The last week and a half, we’ve told them they have the opportunity to be great.”

Central fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning on an infield single by Annie McClelland that drove in Alecia Faber, who opened the frame with a single.

That’s how the score stayed until the fifth, when the Falcons took the lead for good.

Taylor Bergles led off with a double and scored on a triple by Hayden Krueger when the Union Grove outfield lost the ball in the bright afternoon sun.

Krueger, who was safe in a close play at third, scored on the next at bat when Sarah Fonk laced a single to leftfield.

Lampe said the early deficit wasn’t a worry, as he knew his team would get some solid swings against Union Grove pitcher Alice Fitzpatrick.

“We felt really good about coming in against her, especially after facing (Wilmot’s) Kristen (Wood) the other night,” he said.

“The speed doesn’t bother us. We spend at least an hour a night on hitting. The confidence was always there.”

Central added two insurance runs in the sixth inning. Lexi Hermes reached on an error and scored on a triple by Bergles. When the throw from the outfield skipped away from the Broncos’ third baseman, Bergles scampered home with Central’s fourth run of the afternoon.

Bergles, who bats in the ninth spot in the lineup, came up huge twice Thursday, Lampe said.

“She’s in the number nine spot for that reason,” he said. “People don’t realize how quick she is. She can hit for power when need be, but she can also play little ball. … She was the catalyst.”

Union Grove put together one more rally in the seventh, as Alex Kies singled, followed by Alecia Faber, who reached on a fielder’s choice.

Brooke Repta followed with a line shot up the middle that Fonk snagged and fired to first to complete the double play. Fonk struck out Sarah Petrovic to end the game.

“(Winning the sectional) is so awesome,” Fonk said. “I am so happy. We worked our butts off from day one trying to get to this. This has been one of our three goals this season. I’m ready to go and bring it on at state.”

Central had nine hits in the contest, including two apiece by McDonald, Krueger, Fonk and Bergles. Fonk allowed six hits, no walks and struck out two.

Lampe said he’s especially excited for the team’s seniors – Krueger, Jessica Shane, Abbey McDonald and Hermes – who have been through disappointing sectional defeats in their careers.

“They’re the ones who really saw how close we were so many times,” he said. “To finally get over the hump, I’m just so tickled pink.”


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