The Sting 12-U girls fastpitch softball club swept through the five-team Superior Youth Organization double elimination playoff tournament and captured the championship recently in action at the Liebaert Field Complex.
With the three victories, the Sting wrapped up the season with a perfect 17-0 record.
In the quarterfinals, the Diamonds defeated the Stealers 14-11 for the right to face the top-seeded Sting.
Leah Christianson got the win on the mound for the Diamonds, who were led at the plate by Jordan Knepper’s two hits and five RBIs. Devin Moss and Alayna Fender each collected two hits for the winners as Jillian Radtke and Madison Plunkett had two hits apiece for the Stealers.
In the first semifinal game, the Rockets topped the Angels 14-5.
Abby Hansen pitched three innings for the victory, striking out six. Abbie DeMeyer, Maddie Keute and Hannah Toland each drove in a pair of runs on two hits apiece to lead the Rockets at the plate. Missy Walkowiak was saddled with the loss on the mound but did smack a pair of singles for the Angels.
The other semifinal saw the Sting get by the Diamonds 12-7. Allie Shober went 3-for-3 and Gabby Gidley was 2-for-2 with three RBIs to lead the Sting offensively. Mackenzie Kmecik picked up the victory with relief help from Whitney Larson and Sydney Johnson.
The Angels immediately bounced back to eliminate the Stealers, 14-8. Walkowiak pitched the Angels to the victory with Riley Powell, Cassie Strum and Brittany Goldberg all getting hits for the victors.
The stage was set for the first of the day’s two meetings between the Rockets and Sting. The winner would advance to the championship with the loser left to battle back through the loser bracket.
The Sting struck first with Kmecik drawing a walk, stealing second and third base, and scoring on Britta Bergstrom’s sacrifice fly. The Rockets answered with a run in the bottom of the first with DeMeyer scoring on Keute’s single.
The Sting followed with a run in the second and four in the third to open a 6-1 lead after three innings. The Sting then plated four more runs in the fourth on Kmecik’s two-run single and Johnson’s two-run double giving them a 10-1 lead, but the Rockets stormed back with a three-run fourth and fifth inning.
In each inning it was DeMeyer, Keute and Emma Geitner singling and scoring.
With their lead dwindling, the Sting struck back with a three-run sixth with Johnson driving in two more runs with a two-out single, giving the Sting a 13-7 lead.
Johnson came on in relief of Kmecik, getting the side in order with the help of some stellar defense by Erica Wing, who robbed Hannah Toland of a sure base hit with a backhanded stab with runners on second and third.
The win advanced the Sting to the championship game and sent the Rockets down to await the winner of the Angels-Diamonds elimination game.
The Angels dispatched the Diamonds 11-4 with Walkowiak picking up her second pitching win of the day with relief help from Goldberg.
Bailey Paine and Erika Olson each had two hits to lead the winners at the plate. Knepper and Fender each drove in a run for the Diamonds. The win gave the Angels their second crack at the Rockets and a chance to advance to the championship.
The first-year Angel team gave the Rockets all they could handle before succumbing 9-7 in a well-played game.
After falling behind 4-0 after the first inning, the Angels cut the lead to 4-3 with a run in the second and two in the third on Riley Powell’s two-run single.
The Rockets then plated four runs of their own in the third on a run-scoring double by Abby Hansen and Geitner’s two-run double. Geitner later scored on a passed ball for the fourth run.
The Angels kept chipping away with a run in the fourth and fifth innings on RBI singles by Walkowiak and Paine to pull within 8-7. In the bottom of the fifth, Lanie DeMeyer drove in an insurance run with an RBI single and Olivia Plunkett set the Angels down in order in the sixth to notch the save for Hansen and send the Rockets into the championship game.
The Rockets were then faced with the tall task of beating the undefeated Sting twice to claim the championship. The Sting won the coin flip and chose to be the home team, taking to the field for the top of the first.
The Rockets could only muster one run in the top of the first despite sending seven batters to the plate. Keute scored the run as she drew a walk and scored on Geitners’s single.
The Sting took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first when Gidley’s two-out, two-run double scored Kmecik and Bergstrom.
The Rockets regained the lead in the top of the second as Abby Hansen drove in Jacie Olson and Nicole Hendry with a two-out single.
The Sting came right back with four runs on hits by Sam Aune, Wing, Kmecik, Shober and Bergstrom, vaulting them to a 6-3 lead after two innings.
The Rockets took a 7-6 lead in the third inning. After a Keute single and Geitner walk, Plunkett laced a single to center scoring both runners. One pitch later, Gidley threw out Plunkett trying to steal. Toland and Olson each drew walks before Hendry’s two-out single capped the scoring for the inning.
The Sting however stole the momentum right back by tallying four runs in their half of the third. Johnson laid down a bunt to lead off the inning and scored the first run on a bases-loaded walk. Another walk plated Whitney Larson before Maddie LaFlamme’s two-run single provided the final runs of the inning.
With a 10-7 lead, Johnson relived Kmecik on the mound to start the fourth inning for the Sting. Facing the top of the Rocket order, Johnson retired the side in order by striking out two and getting Keute to pop out to shortstop. In the Sting’s half of the fourth, Whitney Larson’s two-out single gave the Sting a 12-7 lead.
The Rockets came back with a run in the top of the fifth as Toland doubled with two outs and later scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 12-8.
Following a 30-minute delay for lightning, the Sting looked to put the game away in the bottom half of the fifth. LaFlamme and Kmecik walked with one out and Bergstom’s single to left scored LaFlamme. After Johnson walked, Gidley smacked her second two-run double of the game to score Kmecik and Bergstrom and give the Sting a 16-8 lead.
The Rockets loaded the bases in the sixth and seventh innings, but could get no closer.