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Waubonsee Softball advances to National Tournament for the first time

Waubonsee edges Madison for Region title, advance to Nationals for first time

Waubonsee Softball advances to National Tournament for the first time

Waubonsee Softball advances to National Tournament for the first time

Waubonsee Community College’s softball team is headed to the NJCAA Division II National Championship Tournament for the first time in the program’s history. The top seeded Chiefs held on for a 2-1 victory over second seeded Madison (WI.) College to win the Region IV Division II District B Tournament played at Yorkville High School. Waubonsee (36-18) will begin play in the 2017 NJCAA Division II National Championship Tournament in Clinton, Mississippi on May 17. Getting there however was not easy. Earlier in the day Madison (37-19) rallied from a 5-0 deficit in the fifth inning to beat Highland Community College 7-6 and eliminate the Cougars (23-11). The Wolfpack then carried that momentum into the championship round of the double-elimination tournament needing to defeat the Chiefs twice for the title. Madison kept Waubonsee’s offense in check to win the early afternoon contest 4-0 and force a winner-take-all final game.

In that first game Madison scored a run in the top of the second with a two-out single to grab a 1-0 lead. The Chiefs had a chance to even the score in their half of the second when Mary Wackerlin laced a two-out single and Megan Stricker followed with a single to right. Ally Miller then ripped a single to left, but Wackerlin was gunned down at the plate by Madison left fielder Claire Brzenk for the third out. Waubonsee threatened again in the fourth as Wackerlin smacked a single to center with one-out. Liz Gagnon’s grounder to short was mishandled putting runners at first and second. But the Chiefs could not get a clutch hit as Stricker flew out to left field and Miller popped out to right field to strand two more runners. In the bottom of the fifth Waubonsee’s Megan Arciver singled to right with one out before Lexi Moky grounded to short. However, Madison’s second baseman dropped the ball on the attempted force out at second putting the Chiefs in business once again. Ally DeLuca then lined a shot to the Wolfpack’s centerfielder for out number two. Nicole Krupp followed with a line shot right at the right fielder to strand two more runners. Madison utilized that momentum to push across two runs in the top of the sixth to break the game open, taking advantage of a two-base error, a walk, a passed ball, a squeeze bunt and a pop up lost in the sun by the Chiefs’ defense. The Wolfpack tacked on a run in the seventh as relief pitcher Hannah Wienen slammed the door shut the last two innings. Waubonsee managed only four hits in the loss leaving eight runners on base for the game. DeLuca took the loss going seven innings, surrendering seven hits and only two earned runs while striking out nine and walking two.

In the decisive final game the Chiefs’ Courtni Neubauer led the game off with a walk and proceeded to steal her 67th base of the season. She scored two batters later when Moky drilled a double to the left centerfield fence for an early 1-0 lead. DeLuca then reached base on an error as Moky scored to put Waubonsee ahead 2-0 just four batters into the game. However, the Chiefs managed just four hits the rest of the way while leaving only five runners on base for the game. Meanwhile Krupp mostly kept the Wolfpack hitters off balance and was backed up by solid defense when she didn’t. Madison registered back-to-back singles to begin the bottom of the second. But that potential scoring opportunity was squelched when Neubauer snagged a sinking liner to center and doubled the runner off second base. The Wolfpack got on the scoreboard with two outs in the fifth inning on a hit batter, a passed ball, a walk and a run-scoring single to left by Brenna Seeber. Krupp then induced a fly out to left field to preserve the Chiefs’ 2-1 lead. Madison also got the potential game-tying run on base with one out in both the sixth and seventh innings, but each time Krupp got a fly out to left field and a grounder to shortstop for a force out at second, setting off an energetic Chiefs’ celebration following the final out.  Krupp allowed just six hits in going the distance for her 12th win of the season, striking out three and walking one.