Updated: May 18
By Jason Zaleski
With human beings at the wheel, anything can happen in Wednesday's division one, section one seed meeting. Fourteen coaches will gather and attempt to rank themselves in single file line for the start of next week's WIAA softball playoffs. Every coach will have a high option of their team and not always enough information about the others and still be relied upon to make an objective opinion. What could go wrong?
As you've heard from me before, bring on the WIAA supercomputer, stat!
Until the supercomputer enters the equation, below is my best attempt at giving you my knowledge of the teams in play and reading the minds and psyche of the various coaches charged with the task at hand. For your reading convenience, we go knee deep into the section's five best teams. Enjoy.
1.) Chippewa Falls (20-1) - The Cardinals have once again built an exquisite playoff seed resume in 2022. Twenty wins prior to the seed meeting is tremendous in a couple of ways. One, it’s 20 wins. Two, coach Chelsea Seckora has found a way to play 21 games so far, and in a year with a dreadfully cold and snowy April that saw multiple games postponed throughout the northern half of the state.
The one blemish? A 4-3 loss at the hands of the Cardinals, the Middleton (14-9) variety, last Saturday. It was an 11am start in Kaukauna and the first of three at the quad event, we’ll give some grace to what was likely a 7am alarm for the kids in Chippewa.
All told, the number one seed goes to Chippewa Falls, winners of the Big Rivers conference.
2.) Marshfield (15-4) - In her first year as coach, Becky Linzmeier was handed the keys to a nicely outfitted sports cars and has kept it between the lines on the 2022 softball highway. The Tigers are Wisconsin Valley champions for the first time since 1997 and have locked up the two seed.
Courtney Donahue is arguably the groups top pitcher who boasts a 1.40 ERA through 60 innings pitched in conference play. Donahue has recorded 77 strikeouts, 27 more than her nearest WVC competitor.
The Tigers are disciplined from the plate as show by only comitting 29 strikeouts in conference play, under three per game. Marshfield has racked up 102 team hits to go along with a .340 batting average with 76 runs scored.
Marshfield has been bounced in the playoffs by Chippewa three straight seasons. Will it happen again in 2022?
3.) Superior (14-2) - Always tough to figure out Superior when half of its games are played in or against teams from Minnesota. How do you even go about attempting to draw a straight line from “we beat Hibbing and Cloquet” to “that means we’re better than Wisconsin Rapids and SPASH”? Yet, that will be the argument made by coach Matt Sather and others in the group will vote his Spartans to be one of the top seeds.
Don’t be surprised if Superior moves up from this spot. If Mr. Sather is more persuasive than Ms. Linzmeier it could happen. A shame that computer seeding isn’t already here for this sport.
Is it best for Superior to play post season in Minnesota? Maybe.
4.) New Richmond (15-3) - Only three losses on the season for coach Lynzi Knudtson and her Tigers. Hudson on April 26th (3-0), Chippewa on May 3rd (4-1), and Chippewa on May 5th (4-0), a tough stretch for the Tigers.
Without a conference championship to boast about on Wednesday night and having to battle a 50% Minnesota team, seems like best case for New Richmond is the four. It would guaranty two home games before a rematch with Chippewa.
If coach Knudtson could argue her way to the three or sandbag to a six, it would keep them opposite of Chippewa in the bracket. Either way, need to beat all sectional opponents to make it all the way to Goodman Diamond in Madison for the state tournament. Again, computer seeding can’t come fast enough.
5.) Eau Claire North (12-4) - Coach Kelsie Flitch is going to ask for the three seed at the outset of the seed meeting. The result of the request should be a no and the five seed should be the next best thing for the Huskies.
With losses in the group to; New Richmond twice, Hudson, and Wisconsin Rapids, a five seed is the best case. Then consider that North hasn’t had to play Chippewa yet. Should North get the upset tonight, 22 hours before the seed meeting, can they leapfrog New Richmond to the four? A loss to the Cardinals tonight and North is cemented as the five.
Projected on 5/17/22