It’s the Fourth of July!
Like many of the pitches we saw at the state tournament it’s hot outside but not so” in the river.”
Good Day Fastpitch Fans!
The 2021 Wisconsin high school fastpitch state tournament series was completed on Wednesday on King Field at the UW-Green Bay campus.
I have waited a few days to write this review so as to include as many thoughts, observations, statistics, comparisons etc. It will be a two-part report with part two coming tomorrow.
The tournament was played at two venues. On Monday the Division 1 quarterfinals where teams were playing to make the Final four, were played at Bayport High School on a great, beautiful facility. The turf was brown in the infield and green in the outfield. The site lines were pretty good from behind home plate. The downside in my humble opinion was the fact that it was artificial turf. The fence is 200’ to all fields at Bayport and makes for a great high school softball game in Wisconsin which is played with a cork-center ball rather than a plastic core as is used in collegiate fastpitch.
At UW-Green Bay the venue was interesting. The fences appear to be a long-long way from home plate as is indicated by some stats you will read about in Part 2 of this report tomorrow. The surface at King Field appears to be the same artificial turf as was put down at Bayport High School. The purist in me reports that the only benefit of playing on that stuff is that without thunder and lightning a game can be played in a steady rain. Several games on Tuesday were indeed played throughout intermittent and steady rain. Here is my “beef” about artificial playing fields. That surface creates an entirely different game than does natural turf and dirt. The ball bounces as if the game was played on dirt or natural grass with a rubber ball. It’s bouncy and creates unnatural bounces and thus misplayed balls of a much different variety than one sees on dirt infields and grass outfields. When it rained the surface played as if the game was being played on ice. There were a tremendous number of players that slipped, lost their footing and slid as if ice skating, falling and skidding on the surface. Most of the slipping and sliding was experienced by the baserunners rather than the fielders but some outfielders as well as infielders also slipped and slid. We saw several pitchers slip when their lead foot hit the turf as they planted that foot. If the ball was bunted hard and hit the turf six or more feet from home plate they normally bounced quite high but if bunted softly in front of home plate the ball died and rolled just far enough to make plays at first base very close and created a high number of bunt singles even when sacrifice was the intended play.
We saw kids slide into bases as if they were playing on ice. Some did slide too far past the bags and were tagged out after they beat the throws. At home we saw players slide across home plate and stop a few yards past the plate.
With all that said about the turf fields in Green Bay and at Bayport High School we must also remember that the infield surface at Goodman Diamond on the UW-Madison campus also plays much differently than most Badger state players are accustomed to. That “plastic dirt” at Goodman plays fast and has some wicked hops and bounces. The ball appears to pick up speed at Goodman and especially after it has bounced twice before reaching the point of being played. The outfield at Goodman is natural grass and is plush. Nobody in Wisconsin high school softball plays on that kind of surface until their trip to Goodman Diamond.
The weather was perfect on Monday. It was sunny, bright and not windy. We watched game #4 between Burlington and Cedarburg as my son Eric came in from Salt Lake City on Sunday. He had rented a car beginning on Monday morning on the west side of Madison. We hustled down there and back home where he and his mother then drove our car to Green Bay while I followed in our motorhome. Our plan was to head to Bay Shore County Campground up Highway 57 past Green Bay, set up the motorhome then return to Bayport High School to watch Game #4 as Co-Head coaches Jeff Langkamp and Mark Jessup are both brothers-in-law to my daughter Kari so we have a connection. In addition to the family connection Jeff, my son-in-law Jim, Eric and I and one night, my daughter were teammates when we played on the Italian House mens’ fastpitch team in the Janesville men’s fastpitch league. If you have been reading these Bulletins throughout the season you will remember that Jeff’s daughter Isabelle was a junior this season on the Sussex Hamilton team that also advanced to the Division 1 quarterfinal.
The Burlington vs Cedarburg game was a close one with Burlington taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Molly Berezowitz singled up the middle then advanced to second on a passed ball. Alexa Burinda then grounded out to 3b but Berezowitz advanced to third on the throw to first. Meagan Baumeiste then dropped down a perfect squeeze bunt that saw Berezowitz score. They added two more in the third inning when Kayla Warner reached on a great bunt single and then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Cedarburg catcher. Morgan Klein then reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on the throw to first by the pitcher which was offline allowing Warner to score. Then Klein advanced to third on the second passed ball of the game. Kendra Baumeister then walked. Berezowitz followed with a fly ball to leftfield for a sacrifice fly. In the Cedarburg half of the sixth the Bulldogs battled back. After Cassidy Gall grounded out to short, Megan Lacke walked. Sarah Prom singled through the right side, moving Lacke to second. Claire Woodward pinch ran for Prom. Pitcher Paytn Monticelli homered to right center on a second consecutive changeup. It was a three-run blast to tie the score. In the bottom of the seventh Burlington’s Meagan Baumeister walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brianna Morris. After a strikeout Kayla bunted safely but Monticelli threw high to first and Baumeister scored the game-winner.
I have never taken sides in games between teams due to the fact that I cover the game statewide and have coaching friends in all corners and nooks and crannies of the Badger State. I just go to watch and perhaps see something I’ve never seen before but it was a tough way to lose a game for Cedarburg but Burlington created their luck by getting a runner aboard and executing the bunt to move her to second base.
From Bayport High School we traveled to the field at UW-Green Bay, chose to get dinner at Panera Bread then headed back to the field at UW-Green Bay. There we watched the Division 2 Semi-Final between Burlington and Kaukauna. During that game we saw the umpire at third base not get out of the way of a rocket down the line. The ball knocked the guy to the ground. We were in the bleachers beyond right field so could not tell where the guy got hit but like a boxer who has been knocked down and beat the count he stood up and finished out the game. It was a bit scary initially. Kaukauna’s speed was too much for Burlington and the Ghosts’ victory propelled them into the Division 1 title game on Wednesday afternoon against Sun Prairie.
After a great night’s sleep at the campground, the first night ever in our motorhome we purchased last September we arose and headed for the ball yard where Unbeaten Blair-taylor would take on Juda/Albany (Jubany as the fans call the team) in the first Division 4 Semi-final. That was a barn-burner of sorts with “Jubany” sending Blair-Taylor home. The game started with cloudy skies and a forecast for rain. It did rain about midway through the game and affected the play. Next up were Mishicot and Phillips in the other D4 semi-final. Head Coach Blake Edwards has turned around what was a moribund program in Phillips and this was their second Final Four appearance in his 11 years at the helm. He is a former mens’ fastpitch player having played for Wilber Lime out of Galesville, a team I played with in the 80s so the game held a special intrigue for me. It was a great game with Phillips taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the second only to see Mishicot knot the score in the bottom of the third. In the bottom of the fifth Mishicot scored the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run. Phillips threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double by Jensen Weik who moved to third on a sacrifice bunt attempt that was so good it was a safe hit. With one out a bunt was popped up to third for the first out. Then Jada Eggebrecht lined a shot to third where it was snared and easily ended up being an inning-ending double play. The Loggers had runners at two and three and no outs and could not drive in a run. Then Dodgeville would be playing Lomira in the Seed #4 vs Seed #1 game. Dodgeville was the #1 seed in Division 3 and coached by 31-year veteran Gene Van Dyke who had taken two Dodgeville teams to the title game in 1994 and 2000 when the Dodgers finished runner up. The Dodgers in this game routed Lomira 10-4 with 16 hits. We then went to get dinner and by the time we got back to the ballyard we had to sit in the right field bleachers for the Peshtigo vs Prescott game which saw Prescott eke out a tight 1-0 when leadoff batter Sydney Matzek opened with a single and was followed by a triple off the bat of Grace Franco. Prescott’s sophomore pitcher Taylor Graf twirled a three-hitter and fanned 10 while walking none. Peshtigo’s sophomore pitcher Bethany Ahrens was pretty good as well, scattering six hits and striking out five while walking none.
We headed back to the campground for a “Radiate” campfire (a round tin filled with recycled paper products soaked in wax.
Check out tomorrow’s Bulletin for
The Rest of the Story!
Keep it Rising!