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Cheese find a way in opener
Monroes Maggie Schuttler slides home safely in the sixth inning of the Cheesemakers 3-0 win over Mount Horeb in the first round of the WIAA Division 2 softball playoffs on Thursday.
MONROE - It's never really easy to win any playoff game. But when a pitcher like Meghan Roberts throws a shutout while allowing just one runner to reach second base, the chances of winning increase.

Roberts allowed only five runners on four hits to go with five strikeouts, and the Cheesemakers' bats came alive in the sixth to get the 3-0 win over Mount Horeb in the first round of the WIAA Division 2 softball tournament Thursday.

"We're playing with a lot more confidence than we were a couple weeks ago. It was a good win tonight," head coach Dale Buvid said. "She had her fastball and riseball working. The hits they got were not very well-struck balls. We try to limit her to just one runner an inning, and she did that tonight."

Roberts hit the second batter she faced for the first runner of the game. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second before a fly ball to the outfield ended the top half of the first.

In the second, Roberts went right back at it, allowing just one single before striking out the side. Roberts ended up allowing runners in the fourth, fifth and sixth, but none made it beyond first base.

"In high school fastpitch softball, if you have a pitcher that is throwing strikes, a defense that is not making mistakes, you're going to have a lot of opportunities to win in the playoffs," Buvid said.

At the plate, Monroe couldn't get much going. Emily Rufenacht had a pair of hits in her first two at-bats, but was stranded each time. The Cheese hit the ball hard, but usually right at a fielder.

"We put the ball in play and there were certainly some that were well struck. But give (Mount Horeb) some credit, they made some nice plays and limited our baserunners," Buvid said.

Monroe scored all three of its runs in the sixth inning. Pinch hitter Kendra Clark led off the inning with a dump into shallow right.

"I give Kendra a lot of credit. It's not easy doing what she had to do, come in off the bench and hit an offspeed pitch into right field for a base hit. She's struggled with offspeed pitches most of the year," Buvid said.

Jessica Beckman re-entered to run, and Paisley Bennett lined a shot to center. Beckman's wheels allowed her to go from first to third, and Bennett swiped second on the throw. Senior center fielder Maggie Schuttler then launched a shot deep into the gap in right center on the first pitch she saw in the at-bat, scoring both runners on her way to a double.

"I was pulling the ball all night, and that last time I just hit it perfectly," Schuttler said. "She was pitching me inside all night, and I was looking for that. That was kind of stupid on her part."

Rufenacht then hit a sacrifice fly to center field to move Schuttler to third with only one out. Cleanup hitter Brandi Trewartha hit a slow roller back to the pitcher, who looked at Schuttler in an attempt to hold her at third. As the pitcher lifted up her arm to throw to first, Schuttler broke for home. The relay throw from first to the plate was just a bit off, and Schuttler slid in safely.

"It was good to get more than just a one- or two-run lead. Then they could get a walk, a sacrifice, a hit or anything and they are right there in the game," Buvid said.

Roberts went 1-2-3 in the seventh to end the game and advance the Cheesemakers onto the second round, where the Badger South champions will travel to River Valley.

"Once we get Meghan going and comfortable, she's amazing. That makes our job a lot easier," Schuttler said.