By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Late collapse spoils Cardinals' run to state
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Brodheads Mariah Mohns is greeted by teammates after a first-inning home run in the Cardinals 9-8 loss to Fort Atkinson Wednesday.
EVANSVILLE - Brodhead softball coach Steve Krupke didn't hesitate having ace pitcher Erika Stampfli attack hitters in a seventh inning jam in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal Wednesday.

Fort Atkinson sophomore Amber Foerster, who was 4-for-4 with two bunt hits, delivered a game-tying single past third base and senior Cassidy Lyons ripped a game-winning single to left that scored Courtney Jacobson and stunned Brodhead in a 9-8 comeback win.

Krupke didn't want Stampfli to consider intentionally walking Foerster with runners on the corners and two outs in the seventh.

"Erika has carried us all year," Krupke said. "I didn't want to put anything in her head that she has to fear anyone. Their 2-3-4 hitters are good hitters too. In hindsight, maybe I should have. If it was the bottom of the order I would have."

With the win, Fort Atkinson (21-4) moves on to play Monroe in the WIAA Division 2 Portage sectional championship game Friday. Brodhead (22-3) jumped out to a 4-0 lead and led 7-1 before the Blackhawks rallied.

"We had high expectations especially after you have a 7-1 lead," Krupke said. "I told the team it's a tough pill to swallow. Fort Atkinson has 20 wins and plays in a good conference. You knew they would be able to hit."

The Cardinals jumped out to an early lead with a four-run first inning off Fort Atkinson pitcher Emilie Bakken. Brodhead junior Tia Collins, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two stolen bases, singled to right leading off the first. She stole second and freshman Amanda Pickel lined a single to left. Junior Jana Covert, who was 2-for-4, came through with a bloop RBI single to center. The big blow in the first came when junior Mariah Mohns belted a three-run homer to right to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.

"I wasn't expecting it at all," Mohns said. "I just wanted to put the ball in play. I just got lucky it went over the fence."

Bakken walked Pickel and senior Riley Olson in the second. Covert hit a fly ball to center the Blackhawks dropped, which allowed Pickel to score. Covert later came in to score on a wild pitch to give the Cardinals a 6-1 lead.

The Cardinals extended their lead in the fourth when Collins singled and then stole second. Olson then delivered an RBI single that gave the Cardinals a 7-1 lead.

"I thought we would be able to get it done from there," Collins said. "I kind of relaxed and the momentum switched."

The Blackhawks chipped away at the deficit. The Blackhawks came through with a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth. Stampfli walked Ashley Boos and Marta Kotz reached on an error. Foerster then ripped a two-run double to left center. Fort Atkinson junior Maddy Podmolik then lined an RBI single to center to cut the Cardinals' lead to 7-4.

The Blackhawks had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the sixth, but had an unfortunate break. Podmolik had an RBI single and it looked like she scored to tie the game on sophomore Lexie Weigand's sacrifice fly. Podmolik tagged up and scored, but Brodhead appealed and umpires called her out after ruling she left too early.

Collins said the most memorable parts of the season included beating Edgerton and going unbeaten in the Rock Valley South Conference.

Since the Cardinals were just one out away from playing Monroe in a WIAA Division 2 sectional championship for the right to go to state, the loss was tough to overcome.

"It hurts," Mohns said. "I love this team. We did our best. We had everything. It just didn't go our way. We just can't put it together."

The sectional semifinal loss doesn't taint the accomplishments the Cardinals achieved this year on the diamond.

"If we would have went into the season knowing we would get 22 wins, beat out Edgerton who had everyone coming back and make it to the sectional, you can't hold your heads down," Krupke said. "It's too bad it had to end."