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Brodhead reverses '09 fate, defeats Edgerton
Photo for the Times: Christopher Heimerman Brodhead ace Ericka Stampfli struck out 11 Thursday as the Cardinals knocked off Edgerton in a WIAA Division 2 regional final, 4-1.
BRODHEAD - Thanks to her problematic back, Erika Stampfli's season has been full of grimaces. Before she retired the final Edgerton batter to seal up a 4-1 win and a WIAA Division 2 softball title for Brodhead Thursday night, her catcher paid her a quick mound visit.

"I told her to smile; she hadn't much the whole game," Brodhead junior Tia Collins said. "I knew it was almost over; just one more out. I wanted her to relax. She's put a lot of work into this season."

But Collins was providing her battery and classmate with comfort long before that seventh-inning visit. The fleetfooted backstop crushed a standup triple to deep right center on the first pitch Edgerton starter Caitlin Johnson threw.

"The last time we played them, she kept throwing me inside, inside," Collins said. "I was hoping she'd do the same thing and it worked out."

Freshman third baseman Amanda Pickel traded places with Collins by smacking an RBI triple to left center. Then Riley Olson deadened a squeeze bunt toward the mound and Pickel slid in feet-first, narrowly beating a flip by Johnson.

"When you get (that 2-0) lead, it just takes some of that pain away a little bit; then Erika knew she didn't have to be perfect with every pitch," Brodhead coach Steve Krupke said. "We've been relying on her a lot."

Stampfli struck out 11 but walked seven - all in the first three innings. She walked the bases loaded with no one out in the second. After a strikeout, she walked Katie Good to force home the Crimson Tide's only run before striking out the top two batters in their order.

"With her stuff and our defense, she needs to throw strikes," Krupke said. "But I know what it's like out there. You're not feeling 100 percent and you're afraid to lob it over the middle."

After the Cardinals scored twice in the bottom half, Stampfli walked the first two batters in the third before striking out the next three.

"When she settled down in the third, we failed to recognize she was throwing it over the middle of the plate while we were standing and watching," Edgerton coach Tony Dewar said. "She was getting ahead in the count. When she does, I wouldn't want to face her either."

Stampfli scattered just four hits and held Edgerton hitless in eight at bats with runners in scoring position.

In the bottom of the second, Cardinals designated hitter Tiffany Carmack took a close pitch for a ball at 2-2 before driving home Shianne Strommen with a single to left center. With two outs, Riley Olson popped a Texas-leaguer RBI single to shallow right.

Collins, the only batter with multiple hits, launched a second standup triple to right center with two down in the fifth and went 3-for-4.

The Tide (15-6) washed Brodhead (21-2) out of the playoffs last year, 4-0 in the regional finals.

After Thursday's emotional payback victory, Krupke isn't worried about his group staying grounded and keeping its eyes on the prize.

"This isn't a group where you have to worry about that," Krupke said. "It's one of the best groups that I've coached. They work hard; they get after it. Because of that, I love to see these kids experience success."