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Cardinals can't stem the Tide in title game
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EDGERTON - Edgerton High School softball coach Tony DeWar thought Caitlin Johnson was the best player in the Rock Valley Conference this season. North or South.

The Crimson Tide's junior right-handed pitcher did nothing to disprove that notion Thursday.

Johnson retired the last 15 batters she faced, leading Edgerton to a 4-0 victory over Brodhead in a WIAA Division 2 regional title game at Racetrack Park.

Rock Valley North champion Edgerton (21-2) plays Lakeside Lutheran (14-10) in a Prairie du Chien sectional semifinal game at 1 p.m. next Thursday. The Crimson Tide defeated the Warriors, 10-3, in a nonconference game during the regular season. Adams-Friendship and Monroe play in the other sectional semifinal game, and the winners play for the title and a state berth at 3:30 p.m.

In pitching the Crimson Tide past the Rock Valley South co-champion Cardinals (17-6) for the second time this season, Johnson was nearly untouchable. She allowed only two hits, and Brodhead managed only one ball out of the infield after the second inning.

"Because Caitlin doesn't get 150 strikeouts a year, she doesn't get nearly the attention she deserves," DeWar said. "And that's what makes me mad because a groundball out is the same as a strikeout."

Johnson wasn't worried as much about the recognition as she was about the Crimson Tide moving one step closer to the school's first state berth.

"Winning regionals was one of our goals coming into the year, but now we want more," Johnson said. "It's still one game at a time, but now we're one step closer."

Johnson got all the run support she needed when the Crimson Tide pushed across two runs in the third. Jenna Pope led off with a bunt single and moved to second when Anne Tronnes walked.

After Molly McCall sacrificed the runners to second and third, Brodhead pitcher Erika Stampfli pitched around Meggie Schmidt to load the bases. Jane Downing then hit a slow roller to third baseman Leah Hegi, whose throw home pulled Tia Collins off the plate, allowing Pope to score. Tronnes then beat Jordan Riese's throw home on Johnson's grounder to make it 2-0. Stampfli finished with six strikeouts.

Edgerton added two more runs in the sixth on Pope's RBI single and a Brodhead error.

Brodhead coach Steve Krupke was not making excuses afterward.

"They're a good team and played good defense," Krupke said. "They will represent our conference well at the sectional tournament, and I'd be surprised if they weren't in at least the sectional finals.

"Softball is a game of emotion, and tonight we just couldn't get any kind of momentum going. But credit Edgerton for that. They played well."