Situational softball will be key for Marshfield in the postseason
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield softball team has put together an impressive season thus far in 2017, but the Tigers are still hoping to improve as the WIAA playoffs loom next week.
The Tigers, 13-5 overall and 6-3 in the Wisconsin Valley Conference, wrap up their regular-season schedule with a WVC game at Wausau West on Thursday, a nonconference tilt at Hortonville on Friday, and a matchup with Wausau East Saturday.
Marshfield is the No. 5 seed in the Division 1 Sectional 1 bracket and will host No. 12 New Richmond in a regional semifinal on May 24 at the Marshfield Fairgrounds. The winner play either No. 4 Superior or No. 13 Wausau East in a regional final May 26.
Second-year coach Dan Costa said the Tigers occasionally struggle with some situations like bunting and moving runners over, but they are improving, and he feels they are ready to make another strong playoff run after they reached the Division 1 sectionals a year ago before losing in extra innings to Hudson in a sectional semifinal.
“Executional stuff: bunts, situational softball, … it’s what I talk about all the time,” Costa said. “We don’t need a home run. We don’t need a triple. We just need a ball in play to the right side to push across a run here and there, lay down a bunt to push across a run here and there, that kind of stuff. We’re learning, we’re getting better at it, but we’re not where I want us.”
Marshfield lost a WVC game to D.C. Everest at home 5-1 on May 11. Despite 10 baserunners, the Tigers only mustered one first-inning run off Evergreens pitcher Miranda Gajewski. Marshfield had two runners on in the second, third, fourth, and seventh innings but could not score again in the loss.
“There’s a lot of season left, and as long as we learn from these games, we’ll go into the playoffs and do what we’re supposed to do. We’ll be all right,” Costa said.
Marshfield won two of three games at the Escanaba Invitational on May 12-13 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Playing without four starters in a 14-1 loss to host Escanaba on Friday due to school obligations, the Tigers rebounded with a 3-2 win over Marquette and 17-1 rout of Rapid River on Saturday as a number of players earned valuable playing time.
Junior pitcher Megan Donahue has been a mainstay all season, throwing most of the innings for the Tigers. She had 18 strikeouts in the 10-inning win over Marquette and also had a double and scored twice against Rapid River.
Senior third baseman Melissa Roberts; juniors Morgan Nordbeck at second base, Emily Draeger at catcher, and Kaitlyn Konrardy at first base; sophomores Jenna Jakobi, Rhiannon Corozolla, and Maddie Mews in the outfield; and freshman Jordan Pretsch at shortstop have provided Marshfield with a steady lineup that has scored five runs per game in conference play.
“We’ve only had six practices outside,” Costa said, referring to the wet spring in central Wisconsin. “I think the more we’re on dirt, the more that stuff will come. We’ve got about two weeks to get it together, and we’ll go from there. I think we’ll be all right in the end. We’re a scrappy team, and we fight to the end.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at email@example.com.