Spartan softball team wins regional crown
The Superior High School softball team won its first WIAA Division 1 regional championship since 2008 with a 3-1 victory at Eau Claire North Thursday evening.
The Spartans will now play Chippewa Falls in one sectional semifinal game at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Casper Park. The other semifinal has D.C. Everest playing at Stevens Point. The section championship game is Thursday, June 5 at Stevens Point.
The Spartans knew they had their work cut out for them on Thursday because just two weeks ago ECN pounded Superior 9-0 and 16-6.
Leading the Huskies to the lopsided sweep was sophomore Abbey Long, who hit four home runs, had eight RBIs and was the winning pitcher in both games.
This time around, Spartan pitcher Brandie Goldberg walked her all four times as the Spartans improve to 19-7 on the season.
Goldberg allowed just one hit with six strikeouts and eight walks in her complete-game win. One day earlier, ECN had 15 hits in a 10-win over Eau Claire Memorial.
“We went into the game with a plan and the girls executed it perfectly,” Zembo said. “The last time we faced them, Abbey Long carried them offensively and defensively. We weren't going to let that happen again.”
Long suffered the loss with five strikeouts and one walk.
North’s only run came in the top of the first inning thanks to three walks and a hit batter with the bases loaded.
Superior tied it up in the second inning on Gabby Gidley’s home run over the fence in right center field.
“That was huge,” Zembo said. “Gabby’s a great hitter, and over the right center fence — you don’t see that a lot with a right-handed batter. But she’s just a strong hitter, and that was a big run.”
Superior’s eventual game-winning run came in the fifth inning. Taylor Nelson led off with a double, pinch runner Hannah Thul moved to third on Harmony Clarke’s sac bunt and Thul scored on Rachal Fregin’s ground out to first.
The Spartans added to their lead in the seventh when Gidley singled, courtesy runner Allie Thul went to second on Nelson’s sac bunt and scored on Fregin’s single.
"Although we only had four hits, they were timely,” Zembo said. “We also had some great sac bunts to move runners, which is what it takes when you face good pitching.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Goldberg struck out the side in the second inning. … She got some defensive help in the seventh inning when Superior turned a 4-6-3 double play. … In 2008 Superior defeated Hudson in the sectional semifinals but lost to Wausau West 2-0 in the final. … ECN stranded 10 runners, including bases loaded twice.