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Prep softball: Spartans break out the bats in rout of Cedarburg

Superior collected a dozen hits and plated 10 runs to make quick work of the Bulldogs in a five-inning shellacking.

Superior’s Natalee Sigfrids (9), Emma Raye (27) and Ari Robillard (3) celebrate a five-inning, 10-0 victory
Superior’s Natalee Sigfrids (9), Emma Raye (27) and Ari Robillard (3) celebrate a five-inning 10-0 victory over Cedarburg Thursday afternoon, June 9, 2022, in the opening round of the WIAA State Softball Tournament at the Goodman Diamond in Madison
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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MADISON — Powered by four different players with multi-hit performances, fifth-seeded Superior showed off its collective prowess at the plate in Thursday’s WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinal matchup with a 10-0 five-inning rout of No. 4 seed Cedarburg at Goodman Diamond on the campus of the University of Wisconsin.

The explosive effort came despite facing one of the toughest pitchers in the state in Paytn Monticelli, who is committed to play Division I softball for the Badgers, and entered the contest with an ERA of 0.33.

After previously giving up a combined six earned runs across 20 starts this season, Monticelli saw that total eclipsed by the hard-hitting Spartans in three innings, and went on to surrender nine earned runs in five innings pitched.

“Everybody in the state knows that she throws super-hard, and we tried to prepare for it by throwing hard to our girls and stuff. It looks like the stuff that we did might've worked,” Superior coach Mike Sather said. “It was just one of those days where obviously things went great for us because she’s a great pitcher (and) that’s a great team. Things just went really well for us.”

Superior’s Melania Luostari (33) looks back at the field after sliding over home plate for the first run
Superior’s Melania Luostari (33) looks back at the field after sliding over home plate for the first run of the game in the first inning of the Spartans’ 10-0 victory over Cedarburg in five innings Thursday afternoon, June 9, 2022, in the opening round of the WIAA State Softball Tournament at the Goodman Diamond in Madison.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Melania Luostari led the way for Superior with a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate, complete with a trio of base hits. Luostari said she made some subtle adjustments to her approach in preparation for the challenge presented by Monticelli.

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“I just went into my stride right away and just went straight from stride to stop. I didn't try to do anything too much, I didn’t try to hit home runs, I just tried to do what’s best for the team and I did it. I went 3-for-3 and I’m really proud about it,” Luostari said.

Luostari tallied her first hit of the game in the top of the first inning with a bloop single to shallow left field — setting in motion a two-out rally for the Spartans, which provided them with a quick 3-0 lead.

Indigo Fish pushed the first run across with a softly-hit single to left field before Natalee Sigfrids capped off the tone-setting inning with an RBI single to make it 2-0. A wild pitch on the ensuing at-bat plated the third and final run of the inning.

Superior’s Avery Visger (4) hits a two run double
Superior’s Avery Visger (4) hits a two-run double in the fifth inning of the Spartans’ five-inning, 10-0 victory over Cedarburg Thursday afternoon, June 9, 2022, in the opening round of the WIAA State Softball Tournament at the Goodman Diamond in Madison.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Superior opened the floodgates with two more crooked numbers posted in the third and fifth innings, highlighted by a pair of extra-base hits from Avery Visger, along with a double by Sigfrids and a run-scoring base hit by Gabbi Saari.

Ari Robillard, Visger, Sigfrids and Luostari all finished the game with two or more hits in what was another display of the lineup depth possessed by the Spartans.

“Every time people ask us about our team, I do mention that we have a lineup that’s strong all the way up and down the lineup, so if it’s not one person carrying the team that particular day, then it’s somebody else,” Sather said. “And obviously when you have a full lineup like that, the probability of winning any particular game is higher.”

Haley Zembo extended her shutout streak to two games with five more scoreless innings in the circle. The Winona State softball commit struck out six Bulldogs hitters while only giving up a trio of hits and a pair of walks.

The Bulldogs' biggest scoring threat came in the bottom of the third inning after the two walks put runners on first and second with one out. The opportunity was foiled swiftly with help from catcher Emma Raye, who fired a bullet to first baseman Fish to pick off the baserunner to collect the second out. Zembo closed the inning with another strikeout.

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Superior’s Haley Zembo (20) winds up as she fires a pitch
Superior’s Haley Zembo (20) winds up as she fires a pitch in the second inning of the Spartans’ five-inning, 10-0 victory over Cedarburg Thursday afternoon, June 9, 2022, in the opening round of the WIAA State Softball Tournament at the Goodman Diamond in Madison.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Between her ability to throw out baserunners to her calming demeanor behind the plate, Zembo said Raye helps her in many ways.

“She always knows what I’m throwing good that day and how to pick me up and how to keep me focused on the mound,” Zembo said. “She’s very good back there.”

Superior’s Indigo Fish (5) digs a ball out of the dirt
Superior’s Indigo Fish (5) digs a ball out of the dirt for an out in the second inning of the Spartans’ 10-0 victory over Cedarburg in five innings Thursday afternoon, June 9, 2022, in the opening round of the WIAA State Softball Tournament at the Goodman Diamond in Madison.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

The 10-0 win over Cedarburg sets up a rematch against top seed Kaukauna, who handed the Spartans one of their two losses this season in a 3-0 final back in May.

According to Sather, another strong performance at the plate will be key to their success.

Superior’s Avery Visger (4) fires up her team
Superior’s Avery Visger (4) fires up her team as she squats in the dugout before the Spartans’ 10-0 victory over Cedarburg in five innings Thursday afternoon, June 9, 2022, in the opening round of the WIAA State Softball Tournament at the Goodman Diamond in Madison.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“We’re going to have to score runs, because they’re going to score runs. They're a really good team and they’re all athletes. I mean you’re not stopping them, you just gotta hope you score one more run than them. So we’ll see,” Sather said.

WP: Haley Zembo 5IP, 0R, 3H, 2BB, 6K. LP: Paytn Monticelli 5.0IP, 12H, 10R, 9ER, 2BB, 3K. S: Paige Johnson 1x4; Melania Luostari 3x3, 2R; Indigo Fish 1x3, 2R, 2RBIs; Ari Robillard 2x2, BB, 3R, RBI; Natalee Sigfrids 2x2, 2B, R, RBI; Avery Visger 2x3, 2B, 3B, 2R, 3RBIs; Gabbi Saari 1x1, BB, RBI. C: Monticelli 1x2; Sarah Prom 1x2, 2B; Maddie Moser 1x2.

Superior first base coach John Heinen shows off his freshly painted fingernails as he gives a five to Paige Johnson
Superior first base coach John Heinen shows off his freshly painted fingernails as he gives a five to Paige Johnson in the fourth inning of the Spartans’ 10-0 victory over Cedarburg in five innings Thursday afternoon, June 9, 2022, in the opening round of the WIAA State Softball Tournament at the Goodman Diamond in Madison. “I told them if we made it to state they could paint my nails,” laughed the former police officer.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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