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Monroe steals win from Salem
Cheesemakers prepare for Brodhead, Turner
Sophie Golembiewski
Monroe’s Sophie Golembiewski (11) scores on a wild pitch in the Cheesemakers’ 12-1 victory over Salem on Thursday, March 28. The game was Monroe’s final of a spring break trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. - photo by Natalie Dillon

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Although the team collected just four hits, Monroe defeated Salem, Ohio 12-1 in the Cheesemakers’ final game at the Cal Ripken Experience spring break trip. The bulk of the offense came from walks (6) and stolen bases (5).

“We talked about having confidence at the plate and looking for your pitch and not worrying about what others are saying in the crowd — knowing what you are capable of doing,” Monroe junior Sophie Golembiewski said of the team’s approach at the plate.

The Cheesemakers had to show confidence and resiliency early, as Salem’s leadoff batter Channing Toy tripled to left. Although Monroe’s Kaegann Paulson struck out Lauryn Barton, Toy came around to score on an RBI single from Emilee Lewis. That was the only run Paulson gave up, as she sat down the next two batters.

Monroe had a golden opportunity to respond in the bottom of the frame, as Paulson was hit by the pitch. She advanced to second on a wild pitch, and Katrina Sathoff moved her to third with a sacrifice bunt. Golembiewski drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and third, but the Cheesemakers were unable to cash in. Brinley Roidt lined out and Olivia Feller struck out to leave two runners stranded.

Paulson struck out the side in the second, quickly putting the bats back in her teammates’ hands.

Chesney Slotten led off the inning with an infield hit that Salem’s first baseman was unable to pick. The ball went to the fence, allowing Slotten to advance to second on an error. 

Looking to put the tying run 60 feet from home, Monroe head coach Joe O’Leksy had Kate Kundert bunt. In 2023, Kundert had nine sacrifices, which was second on the team. She fouled two bunt attempts and grounded out to first. O’Leksy employed the same strategy with designated hitter Emma Tran. Although she went down 0-2, Tran came through with an RBI groundout to shortstop.

“In our conference with Jefferson, Turner and Brodhead pitchers, we will have to scratch out runs and play small ball,” O’Leksy said. “We know we have a pitcher that will be able to keep runs off the board. If we play in these those scoring games, we have to be able to execute small ball.”

Salem starting pitcher Lewis hit Alexis Herbst and Sathoff, and walked Paulson, loading the bases for Golembiewski.

“(With bases loaded) I’m still taking what I can get looking to put something in play or get on base to get someone to score,” she said.

kaegunn paulson
Kaegann Paulson Pitching Stats 8 innings, 2-0 record, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 BB, 0.875 ERA, 17 K, 1 HBP - photo by Natalie Dillon

Golembiewski drew a full-count, bases-loaded walk scoring Herbst. The free pass opened the flood gates, as Monroe scored three more runs. Roidt reached on an error, as Salem third baseman Bella Brant bobbled the ball, which also allowed Paulson to score. Lewis then threw back-to-back wild pitches in Feller’s at bat, allowing Sathoff and Golembiewski to score of a 5-1 Monroe advantage. 

Salem head coach Mike Thorp made a pitching change in the middle of Feller’s at bat, subbing Morgane Blaine for Lewis. Blaine got out of the inning with a pop up.

The Quakers went three up, three down in the third. Paulson picked up two more strikeouts.

The bottom of the third inning looked promising again, as Slotten led off with a walk and Kundert moved her over with a sacrifice bunt. Blaine escaped the jam by striking out Tran and pinch hitter Chyler Blackburn.

Paulson mowed down the Quakers again in the top of the fourth, throwing just nine pitches. She induced two groundouts and struck out Blaine on three straight pitches.

Monroe then put the game away with a seven-run fourth. Paulson led off with a single, stole second and scored on an error. With Sathoff’s speed at second — the senior stole 19 bases last season — Thorp shifted his shortstop up the middle, anticipating a steal. That left the 5-6 hole wide open for Golembiewski.

“I was actually really excited because that’s where hit most of my hits, so I was happy that hole was open,” Golembiewski said. “Coaches have been saying to take the ball where it’s pitched, so I knew to hit it toward left field and hope for the best.”

Golembiewski came through with an RBI double, hit right where the shortstop would have been. She advanced to third on Salem’s attempt to throw Sathoff out at home.

The hit, making it a 7-1 game, brought Lewis back into the circle. Coming in cold, she walked Roidt in five pitches and gave up a triple to Feller. Thorp made yet another pitching change, but Salem gave up another three runs in the inning. Raevynn Jackson, who reached in a walk, scored on an error and Paulson drove in two with a double to left for a 12-1 lead.

Paulson put the game away in the fifth, ending with a swinging strikeout on a change-up.

“Kaegann was hitting her spots. She’s developed a change-up that has been really good lately,” O’Leksy said. “Hopefully that will continue on because it keeps people off balance.”

Paulson pitched a complete game, giving up just one earned run on two hits. She walked one and struck out 10. In two games, Paulson has sat down 17 batters. She also produced at the plate, going 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Golembiewski was 1-for-1 with two runs scored, two RBIs and two walks. Feller accounted for the only other hit. 

Monroe ended its spring break trip to Tennessee with two wins and successful scrimmage against Hortonville. Although the games were the team’s first of the season, Golembiewski knew they were important leading up to conference play once returning to Wisconsin.

“We took these games as a learning experience,” she said. “We know next week is going to be one of our toughest weeks during the season with Brodhead and Turner.”

Monroe was slated to play Brodhead on Tuesday, April 2. The Cardinals were Division 3 state champions in 2023 and return first-team all-state pitcher Ava Risum. The Cheesemakers then play Turner on Thursday, April 4. The Trojans defeated the Cheesemakers 4-3 on a wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth in a WIAA Division 2 semifinal game. Turner then went on to qualify for state, falling to Freedom in the semifinals 2-1.