By Paul Lecker
For Zaleski Sports
PLOVER – Two weeks ago, the Marshfield softball team left Woyak Field disappointed after being swept in a doubleheader by Stevens Point to end its hopes of potentially grabbing a Wisconsin Valley Conference title.
On Monday, the Tigers returned to play Stevens Point in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal and this time they wouldn’t be denied.
The Tigers pounded out 12 hits, including two home runs by junior catcher Madalen Bornbach, and defeated SPASH 7-4 to advance.
Marshfield (16-6) will play a Division 1 sectional final at Chippewa Falls (23-5) at 1 p.m. Wednesday for a berth in next week’s state tournament at Green Bay. The two teams split a nonconference doubleheader in Marshfield on May 20, with Chippewa Falls winning 6-4 and Marshfield taking the second game 7-4.
The game, which will be played at Casper Park, will be carried live at zaleskisports.com.
“I’m thrilled for the girls,” Marshfield coach Danny Costa said. “I’ve lost in this game (sectional semifinals) every year since I’ve been the head coach at Marshfield. When I took over from coach (Mike) Voss, I just wanted them to be playing in meaningful games. You remember these games in high school. I’m happy to break through, and I’m sure it means even more to the girls. SPASH is a premier program, and whenever you can get them, it’s a good day.”
After Marshfield hit into a double play to end the first inning, Bornbach led off the second with a home run off the scoreboard in right field to put the Tigers on top.
Shylah Brogan later drilled a double to left-center to score Sandra Costa to give Marshfield 2-0 lead.
Kyla O’Neill hit a home run to dead centerfield in the bottom of the second for Stevens Point to cut the Tigers’ lead in half, before they poured it on.
Bornbach had an RBI double off the left-field wall in the third to score another run, and was part of two more rallies in the fifth and sixth.
Loryn Jakobi and Bornbach had singles to begin the fifth, Taylor Barwick had a sacrifice bunt to move them over, and Costa was walked intentionally to load the bases. Lydia Schaefer hit a ground ball to second and the throw home was late as Jakobi scored.
Brogran followed with an RBI single to put Marshfield up 5-1.
Bornbach then smacked her second home run, a two-run shot, pushing the Tigers to a 7-1 lead in the sixth.
“Since the last Point game, at practice, we’ve concentrated on tracking the ball deep and taking it the to the opposite field,” Danny Costa said. “We weren’t tracking the ball well, seeing it out of the hand and off the hip, and we rolling a lot of stuff. The coaching staff and I got together and put together some drills, taking 200 swings at practice and really concentrating on taking the ball the other way.”
Stevens Point scored three times in the sixth on an RBI single by Riley Pechinski and a two-out error that allowed two runs to score, but that was it.
Courtney Donahue was exceptional again on the mound for the Tigers, allowing four hits, three in that three-run sixth, while striking out seven and walking just one.
“I watched about 10 (SPASH) games in the last few days,” Danny Costa said. “Her and I got together, we made an approach. I’ve been coaching Courtney since she was about 10. I know what she throws well, how she throws, what she likes to throw. She hits her spots, she works hard. The approach was jam the hands, away, jam the hands, away and she executed it perfectly.”
Tigers 7, Panthers 4
Marshfield 021 022 0 - 7 12 1
Stevens Point 010 003 0 - 4 4 1
WP: Courtney Donahue. LP: Zoe Fink
SO: Donahue 7; Fink (1 1/3 inn.) 0, Maren Sauvageau (1 1/3 inn.) 1; Jaelyn Slowinski (4 1/3 inn.) 3. BB: Donahue 1; Fink 1, Sauvageau 0, Slowinski 2.
Top hitters: M, Brianna Jakobi 2x4, run; Loryn Jakobi 1x4, 2 runs; Madalen Bornbach 4x4, 2B, 2 HRs, 2 runs, 4 RBIs; Shylah Brogan 3x4, 2B, 2 RBIs. SP, Kyla O’Neill HR, RBI.
Records: Marshfield 16-6; Stevens Point 17-10.