By Dan Truttschel~Sports Correspondent
The similarities all three times the Wilmot softball team faced Westosha Central this spring were eerily similar.
In fact, the only difference was the length of the third game – and that only changed by an inning.
Central posted its third 10-0 win over the Panthers in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal last Tuesday to end Wilmot’s season at 14-9 overall. The Falcons blanked Waterford 10-0 two days later to advance to its second straight WIAA Division 1 state championship.
It wasn’t hard to see the difference between the teams, Wilmot coach Pat Dopke said.
“Central was a better hitting team than us,” he said. “And we made mistakes on defense that led to some of their runs.”
While the scores in all three games, including two in the Southern Lakes Conference season, were identical, Dopke thought that his young team did make some strides.
“The first two games came right after the Chippewa Falls Tournament,” he said. “We came out flat in the first game, then came out looser in the second game and played better.
“I think our pitching was better in the third game, but offensively, we couldn’t get a big hit.”
Wilmot put runners in scoring position in the top of the first inning, but couldn’t come up with a key hit against Central standout pitcher Sarah Fonk.
Fonk then helped her cause when she took a well-placed outside pitch from Wilmot’s Lauren Orszula and sent it over the right-field fence to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead.
Whether things may have been different if Wilmot had scored first remain to be seen, Dopke said, but any advantage couldn’t have hurt its cause.
“It’s tough to say since it was the top of the first inning and Central hadn’t batted yet,” he said. “If anything, it would have given us a little more confidence.”
Central took command in the third inning on a two-run double by Fonk, and then put the game out of reach with two runs in the fourth and fifth and one more in the sixth to end the contest via the 10-run rule.
Wilmot managed just three hits off Fonk, including two by Orszula. Hannah Grossi added the other hit for the Panthers.
Orszula took the loss, as she worked 5-1/3 innings, and allowed 12 hits, eight earned runs and two walks.
Dopke credited Central, which is making its second straight state tournament appearance.
“Central is definitely one of the best teams in the state, if not the best,” he said. “They were the best team we faced all season.
“They have the pitching and offense to play with anyone in the state. The question is how they will handle the great pitchers they will face in Madison.”
The loss ended the Wilmot playing careers of seniors Ashley Webster, Taylor Kontaxis and Madison Hahn.
Results of All-SLC voting and a statistical wrap up of the season will run next week.