The Milaca softball team lost its first game this past week.
The Wolves fell 7-5 to Cathedral on April 22 in the third game of the season.
Both teams were deadlocked at zero after five innings. That’s when the errors began to come.
After a pair of fielding mistakes allowed runners on base, it was a costly throwing error to third base that cost the Wolves. The throw was narrowly missed, but rolled all the way to the fence and a run came in to score. All told, the Crusaders scored five times in the inning.
Senior Natalie Bernard jacked a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to draw the Wolves within striking distance, but another errant throw allowed a run in the seventh, and a single drove in another to make it 7-3. Milaca would add two more in the bottom of the seventh, but could not erase the deficit.
“It’s OK for us to be in that kind of game, because our first two games were 10-run wins in five innings, and you start to think, ‘We’re pretty good, we just have to show up,’” head coach Randy Johnson said. “You hate to lose, but it was an OK learning experience for this part of the season.
Johnson added: “We just had the ‘throw around happies’ for some reason.”.
Bernard homers again in doubleheader sweep
The success began to turn back Milaca’s direction last Friday when they swept visiting Albany in a doubleheader at Sod Field.
It started early for the Wolves as Bernard was again strong at the dish, hitting a three-run bomb in the first inning to give Milaca an early lead in game one. She said hitting the home runs came easy.
“They (the pitches) are going right down the middle for the most part,” Bernard said.
Her swing has done the rest.
Milaca would eventually extend that lead to 10-1 after six innings. In the seventh, pitcher Hannah Johnson, who went all seven innings in the contest, would hold off a Huskies rally to give Milaca a 10-5 victory.
Bernard finished with a 3-for-4 night at the plate, four RBIs and four runs scored.
Megan Bremer added two RBIs, and shortstop Alex Ploeger had three hits in the victory. Hannah Johnson struck out seven and allowed eight hits and just one walk on the mound.
As much success at the plate that the Wolves had in the first game, it disappeared in Game 2, as the Huskies threw a slower pitcher.
The two squads were deadlocked through five innings, but the Wolves finally broke through in the sixth inning, something that Randy Johnson said he knew would happen.
“I’m just really proud of how we adjust,” he said. “In this last game, when the slow pitcher came in, we were patient, and we knew our timing would come around and we’d adjust because we’re good hitters.”
Milaca scored four times in the top of the sixth to take a lead they would not relinquish. Ori Scherer drove in what would be the game-winning run with a single, and Kristina Loegering went 3-for-4 in the game to earn the Wolves the win.
The Huskies did not go down easy as they mounted another late-game threat in the seventh inning. However, Hannah Johnson staved off the rally to earn her second victory of the day, fourth of the season.
“She’s a great pitcher,” Randy Johnson said. “To go 14 innings and give up one walk and hit two batters, I’m real proud of that.”
Bernard was catching in those pressure-packed final moments, a spot which is not easy either.
“It’s a lot of pressure, and it’s tough, because the pitcher doesn’t throw it always to you,” Bernard said.
Milaca improved to 4-1 on the season after the sweep.