6:55 p.m. - AND THAT'S IT! MONROE IS HEADED TO THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP! The Cheesemakers will play Seymour at approximately 4 p.m. Saturday, June 8, in the WIAA Division 2 title game. We'll be here for a live blog again tomorrow. For a full recap on the 10-2 semifinal win over New Berlin West, grab a copy of the June 12 edition of the Monroe Times.
6:54 p.m. - Bobak strikes out Barnes and then Minik grounds out. Burkhardt inside-outs a pitch through the infield for a single. Stephens strikes out on three pitches to end the game.
6:49 p.m. - Barnes, West's No. 3 pitcher, is pitching this inning, and gets Katie Hayes to ground out to second to open the bottom of the sixth. Ambrose then lines out to third and Snider grounds out to short in a very quick 1-2-3 inning for the Cheesemakers.
But with a 10-2 lead, Monroe is now just 3 outs away from a berth in the WIAA Division 2 state championship, where Seymour awaits.
6:46 p.m. - Bobak has been throwing a steady fastball around 62-63 miles per hour all game. The fact that she throws five different pitches adds to effectiveness.
That said, Lauren Stephens and Alaina Ward draw back-to-back walks to open the top of the sixth. Monroe coach Joe O'Leksy makes a quick mound visit, likely reminding his players that they need six outs yet in the game. O'Leksy's mantra each game is "21 outs", the minimum required to get for a seven inning game.
Mallmann hits a grounder to short, but Updike has no chance to double off the runner at second and gets the out at first. With runners on second and third, Stange walks to load the bases for Johnson, a .291 hitter. Johnson pops out in foul territory to Tostrud at first, and Timmers goes down swining on an outside riseball to end the threat. That was a big out for the Cheesemakers, as NB West had the top of the order coming up next.
Monroe has 10 runs on 12 hits thus far, while NB West has 2 runs on 4 hits. Both teams have one error.
6:35 p.m. - Maurer, Monroe's leadoff hitter, steps to the plate for the fourth time today to lead off the fifth and hits a 3-2 pitch on a line to the fence in right center for a triple. Betthauser, 1 for 2 on the day to this point, grounds out to short but drives in the run. Monroe's lead grows to 10-2. Updike lofts a liner into right for a single. Bobak strikes out and Tostrud pops out to first to end the fifth inning.
6:27 p.m. - Johnson strikes out to lead off the fifth, it's the eighth K of the game for Bobak. Sara Howard, a senior, pinch hits for West. She has just one hit on the season and in her likely final prep AB grounds out to Updike at short. Barnes, who hit an inside-the-park homer right handed in her last AB, steps into the box on the left side and is hit square on her right arm on the first pitch from Bobak. Barnes then swipes second two pitches later. Lydia Minik, the No. 2 hitter for West, walks on four straight pitches.
Burkhardt, a sure-fire all-state player given her gaudy offensive numbers, steps to the plate with two on. Bobak gets a pitch in on the hands and Burkhardt weakly pops up back to the mound. Both Burkhardt's batting average (.694 to start the day) and OBP (.747) have taken a beating with her 1 for 3 performance thus far.
6:17 p.m. - Betthauser pops out to third, but then Updike reaches on a high chopper up the third base line. Bobak then triples to right, driving in a run. Bobak has been sending the ball to the opposite field in each of her first three ABs and has 3 RBIs to show for it. Tostrud then draws a 4-pitch walk, and NB West coach Tim Minik decides to make a pitching change. Kuhne, just a sophomore, will be replaced by Ella Wyshochil, a freshman right-hander with a 2.59 ERA in 46 innings of work this season. NB West is young on the mound all over, with Barnes, another freshman, as the only other Viking to see action on the mound this season.
Hayes hits a low liner that chops under the glove of Stange at first. Bobak scores, Tostrud goes first-to-third on the play and Karis Paulson re-enters as the courtesy runner for Hayes at first. Ambrose then floats a single to left, driving in a run. Snider hits into a fielder's choice to second for the second out. Snider hustled and beat the throw to first by about a half of a step. Prien, the No. 9 hitter, bats for the third time today and pops out in foul territory to Stange at first. Cheesemakers now lead 9-2 headed to the fifth.
6:03 p.m. - Burkhardt leads off the fourth with a single to right and advances to second on a poor through from right. Lauren Stephens then drops a sacrifice bunt to move Burkhardt to third with one out. Bobak strikes out Alaina Ward for the second out. Mallmann hits a roller to short, but Updike's throw evades Tostrud at first, allowing the run to score. Mallman advanced to second on the error. Stange then goes down looking for the third out. Onto the bottom of the fourth, Monroe ahead still, 6-2.
5:51 p.m. - Sloane Ambrose ropes a single to left to lead off Monroe's half of the third inning. Snider then hits a weak chopper back to the mound, allowing Ambrose to move up a base. Prien, the No. 9 hitter for the Cheesemakers, gets ahead 3-0 in the count, but Kuhne comes all the way back and catches Prien looking at strike three. Burkhardt snaps the pitch down to short and Ambrose nearly got caught in a run-down. Maurer then gets thrown out by a hair at first on a grounder, and the Cheesemakers go down quietly for the first time today. End of 3, Monroe leads 6-1.
5:45 p.m. - Bobak allows a hit to Hannah Johnson open the third, then hits the bull on the first pitch to Maddie Timmers, allowing Johnson to get to second. Timmers then grounds out to third but Johnson got caught in a rundown between third and home and is tagged out by Updike. Freshman Elena Barnes then ropes a high fly to left that gets to the fence, and Barnes with her speed touches them all and slides in safe at home for an inside-the-park home run. Lydia Minik then weakly chops out to the pitcher's circle. Monroe leads 6-1 headed into the bottom of the third.
5:40 p.m. - Maurer leads off the second after the Cheesemakers batted around in the first and draws a walk. Betthauser drops a bunt for a hit, with Maurer sliding in safe to third. Betthauser moves to second on the throw. Burkhardt asks the umpires of the ball hit Betthauser, but the men in blue side with the call on the field. West fans are tense about the sequence of events, to say the least.
Updike then takes the first pitch she sees into right center for a 2-RBI double, bringing up Bobak, who flies out to right for the first out of the inning. Tostrud grounds out to third, but Updike moves up a base. Hayes grounds out to end the frame, but the Cheesemakers now lead 6-0.
5:31 p.m. - Bobak gets a fly ball out to center to open the second. Then Alyssa Mallman, batting .493 on the year, strikes out with the count full for Bobak's fourth strikeout. Emily Stange then strikes out on a check swing for a quick 1-2-3 second for NB West.
5:27 p.m. - Alyse Maurer leads it off for Monroe and walks on five pitches. Senior Hailey Betthauser bats second, and on a ball in the dirt Maurer advances to second. Betthauser walks on an inside pitch on the next offering by Andrea Kuhne. Updike follows up with a 6-3 groundout, but both runners advance. Bobak, the cleanup hitter, smokes a ball right to first that Emily Strange can't handle. Both baserunners come around to score to make it 2-0, with Bobak standing at first and Grace Tostrud at the plate.
Kuhne throws an Eephus-style offspeed pitch for the second time in the inning, but Tostrud waits on it and flips a flair into left for a base hit. If anyone is looking for a slowpitch player this summer, Tostrud shows she can handle it. Katie Hayes then lines a single to right to tack on another run. Monroe goes up 3-0 and New Berlin West coach Tim Minik comes out for a mound meeting. Karis Paulson courtesy runs for Hayes at first, and freshman Sloane Ambrose hits a weak grounder to third that is bobbled. Bases loaded for sophomore Lizzie Snider, who grounds out to second to bring in another run. Sarah Prien ends the inning with a groundout to second, but bat around and lead 4-0 heading into the top of the second.
5:11 p.m. - Olivia Bobak strikes out the first batter she faces. The second batter, Lydia Minik (the coach's daughter), hits a push bunt up the middle that is two inches from being caught by both Bobak and shortstop Sydney Updike. Kat Burkhardt is the third batter, and on a 1-2 count Minik steals second. Bobak re-focuses and strikes out Burkhardt - it's just the fourth time this season the slugger has been sat down on strikes. Cleanup hitter Lauren Stephens, batting .463 on the season, goes down looking. Bobak emphatically strikes out the side.
5:04 p.m. - Monroe will be the home team. Libby Beck pulling a Nuke Laloosh from "Bull Durham" and hitting the bull during warmups. "I wouldn't get in that box if I were you. I don't know where it's going."
5:00 p.m. - Player intros about to begin. Monroe's Maddison Markham is to sing the national anthem.
4:50 p.m. - Cheesemakers faithful are pouring into the stands and wearing white t-shirts. We'll be getting underway here by about 5-5:15
4:40 p.m. - Seymour advances with a 4-2 win over Ellsworth.
For those interested in NB West, all you need to do is look at junior catcher Kat Burkhardt. She has a .694 batting average with 16 homers, 52 RBIs and 23 steals. For advanced metrics, she carries an otherworldly 2.233 OPS.
Monroe is led by Olivia Bobak, a senior pitcher that has a 1.54 ERA and 211 strikeouts. It's her third season with over 200 Ks. At the plate, she has 4 HRs, 19 extra base hits and leads the Cheesemakers with a .481 batting average.
4:30 p.m. - Monroe is set face New Berlin West in a WIAA Division 2 state semifinal as soon as the Seymour/Ellsworth game is complete. Seymour leads 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth.