Chippewa Falls had just four hits off Superior High School ace Mady Stariha, but the Cardinals made them count as they defeated the Spartans 3-1 in a WIAA Division 1 regional final Thursday, May 23, at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.

With one out in the top of the first inning, Chippewa Falls’ Jayden Hodgson hit the first pitch she saw off the scoreboard in right field for an early 1-0 lead.

The Spartans tied it up in the bottom of the first inning despite not hitting the ball out of the infield.

Ruby Moore and Autumn Siers reached on infield singles. After Cardinal pitcher Mallory Sterling got the next two batters out and walked McKenzie Lehto, Moore scored on Elise DeGraef’s infield hit.

The score remained tied until the fifth inning. Stariha retired the first two batters, but Hannah Aldrich’s double to the right-center gap was followed by Sterling’s home run to left.

Stariha finished her four-hitter with eight strikeouts and three walks as the Spartans’ season ends at 19-4.

Sterling, the winning pitcher, allowed five hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks.

The Spartans threatened in the third when Lehto and Chesie McLaughlin hit one-out singles. But Sterling got out of the jam and a fly out and strike out.

The Spartans’ final base runner was Madison Sislo, who reached on an error with one out in the fourth inning. After the Cardinals turned a double play to end the inning, Sterling retired the final nine batters, including striking out the final batter in the sixth inning and all three in the seventh.

Chippewa Falls (18-7) will play at the winner of Marshfield and D.C. Everest in one sectional semifinal game on Tuesday, May 28.

Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids will play in the other semifinal. The sectional final is Thursday, May 30 at D.C. Everest in Schofield.