It was a a battle to be waged between the #2 seed and the #3 seed both wearing black uniforms with orange and white trim. Wautoma entered the game with a 26-4 record while Poynette entered at 19-5 but with arguably the toughest schedule statewide in Division3.
The Pumas had played no team lower than Division 3 and played and beat the #1 seed in the Division 2 state tournament. They also beat two D1 teams during the course of the season as well as Lake Mills, a D2 school.
Both teams featured pitchers who regularly deliver offerings in the high 50s to low 60s and strike out a lot of batters.
Wautoma threatened in the first inning when with one out pitcher Holly Lowenberg fielded a bunt but threw high to first base allowing Bailey Bader-Lucht to reach first and take second base. When Hornet pitcher Bri Handel swung and missed for strike three the ball sailed over the outstretched trapper of catcher Emma Gavinski and back to the net behind home plate. Handel beat Gavinski's throw to first and was safe on the play that that sent Bader-Lucht to third.
Wautoma chose to attempt a safety squeeze but Lowenberg got to the ball like cat, the runner headed back to third where Brooke Steinhorst was covering and was out sliding into that bag. Lowenberg then struck out third sacker Sydney Dunn to end the threat.
The Pumas got freshman Morgan Gunderson to first via a base on balls and Brooke Steinhorst moved her to second but Lowenberg went down looking to end the inning.
Lowenberg produced a 1-2-3 inning in the second and the Puma offense went to work. Freshman Kassidy McCaffery lined a ball up the middle for a inning opening single and the Pumas inserted Cedi Lapacek for a speed on the bases. Emma Gavinski dropped down a bunt that was fielded by Handel the pitcher but here throw to first was way over the head of Jalyn Piechowski at first allowing the fleet footed Lapacek to score and saw Gavinski reach third base. When Gavinski's twin sister Grace entered to run for her she scored on an Abby Klink liner in the gap to rightcenter that produced a lot of excitement. It looked like a clear triple but when Klink stopped at second and then took off for the third it created excitement as Klink could have been out but the ball got loose and she was safe. When Laken hit a short, sinking blooper in front of the first sacker that girl had to dive for the ball but it hit the end of her glove. and Wagner was safe at first. She then coasted into second on the next pitch for a stolen base. Before the inning was over the Pumas had scored five runs when Ashia Meister singled to left sending Klink home and Wagner to third, Gunderson hit a roller to second that sent Wagner home and when Steinhorst hit a ball that caused the first sacker to leave her spot and move to her right to field it then tossed to the second sacker covering the ball was misplayed allowing Meister to score that fifth run.
Lowenberg proceeded got down on a comebacker to her for the first out and got the the next batter on a swinging strike three. She then got Blader-Lucht to ground out to Meister at second.
The Pumas added another run in the third when Klink singled through the hole at short. Ali Ripp reached first on a throwing error to first moving Klink to third and Meister delivered her second hit of the game sending Klink home.
Wautoma threated a bit in the fourth when Handel singled to center and Piechowski bunted but Lowenberg threw it into right field. The next batter hit a hot one to Steinhorst at short and she tossed to her sister Maggie at third to retire Handel. Ava Butt tried to bunt her way on but popped it up behind home plate and it died in Emma Gavinski's trapper. Lowenberg the struck out the next batter to end the inning.
In the Poynette 4th Gunderson singled to left leading off the inning. Brooke Steinhorst then lofted a high, towering shot that fell to earth at the edge of the warning track in leftcenter moving Gunderson to third base. Lowenberg the hit a bouncer to second that sent Gunderson home and moved Steinhorst to third. When McCaffery hit a liner to the left of the rightfielder the outfielder misplayed the ball sending Steinhorst home with another run.
In the Wautoma fifth Bryn Gunderson flew out on a great charging catch by Grace Gavinski before Brianna Buechner pushed a bunt past Lowenberg between her and Wagner at first for a single. She tried to steal second base but Gavinski would have no part of that and cut her down with a perfect throw to Steinhorst covering the bag. When Ava Stahl went down on a fly to Gavinski it would be Wautoma's last batter of the game because the Pumas ended it in the fifth on the 10-run rule.
Grace Gavinski singled on a flair to short one down the left field line and moved to second on a passed ball and Meister followed with her third hit of the game. Before the inning was over the the Pumas had scored their ninth and tenth run to end the game.
Lowenberg allowed three hits, struck out 6 and walked none. Handel took the loss. Poynette struck out just twice.
The Pumas now play New Holstein at 1 PM tomorrow with a chance to win the school's sixth state title.