VanDerLeest knocks in game-winner for Tigers
By Paul Lecker
STRATFORD — The Spencer and Stratford softball teams were locked into a pitcher’s duel as both of teams’ aces dominated the opposition’s potent lineups.
Something had to give eventually, and it was Stratford that finally pushed a run across.
Cassidy VanDerLeest knocked in pinch runner Madisyn Daul with a single in the bottom of the sixth inning to plate the game’s only run as the Tigers beat Spencer 1-0 in a nonconference game Friday at Hilgemann Field.
Kiana Weiler struck out six for Stratford, and Tiffany Meinders had four strikeouts for Spencer as both starting pitchers were on top of their games. Neither walked a batter, and both scattered seven hits.
Weiler was able to keep the hard-hitting Rockets off-balance with a variety of pitches.
“She was really good at getting ahead in the count, and then she gets even better,” Spencer coach Jason Gorst said. “We need to be more aggressive going after strike one and strike two because once she has two on you, she’s very, very tough.”
With the victory, Stratford (17-6) snapped Spencer’s 17-game winning streak. Seven different Rockets (17-5) had hits in the loss. VanDerLeest and Sammy Kaiser each had two hits for Stratford.
Stratford completed a nonconference two-game sweep of Spencer, as the Tigers won on the road 5-2 back on March 31 in the season opener for both teams.
“Kiana threw her changeup in different situations, full count a couple of times. She threw it early in the count,” Stratford coach Mandy Pankratz said. “We had a discussion with her and (catcher) Brittany (Bredemann) about, ‘Let’s not be predictable. Let’s throw that pitch when they expect us not to.’ She locates it well, locates her drop curve well, and she comes back with a strike when she needs it.”
Both teams open WIAA playoff action next week. Stratford is the No. 5 seed in its Division 3 sectional and will play at No. 4 Prescott in a regional quarterfinal on Tuesday. Spencer earned a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed in its Division 4 bracket and will play either Spring Valley or Cadott at home Wednesday in a regional semifinal.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Tigers 1, Rockets 0
Spencer 000 000 0 – 0 7 2
Stratford 000 001 x – 1 7 0
WP: Kiana Weiler. LP: Tiffany Meinders.
SO: Meinders 4; Weiler 6. BB: None.
Top hitters: ST, Sammy Kaiser 2×3; Cassidy VanDerLeest 2×3, RBI.
Records: Spencer 17-5; Stratford 17-6.