Greenfield — Before the bottom of the seventh inning on Friday, the members of the Whitnall softball team gathered in a tight circle and shouted, "Let's ... get ... a … run!"
Since their game against rival Greenfield was still scoreless at that point, one run was all they needed, or in the words of late Chicago Cubs announced Jack Brickhouse, "Any old kind of a run wins it."
Big win at right time
The Falcons indeed came up with that run, and in impressive fashion.
Amber Rueth led off with a well-placed bunt down the third-base line and beat it out for a single. Hannah Schmidt then stepped to the plate and belted a line drive into centerfield that soared over the fielder's outstretched glove and went for a triple. Rueth scored easily from first, giving the Falcons a hard-earned 1-0 victory.
"I was really nervous," Schmidt said, "but I knew I needed to get a hit for the team. This was a big game for us, and we needed to win. It was nerve-wracking."
The victory was indeed big for the Falcons, who improved to 8-2 in the Woodland Conference Black Division, one game behind New Berlin Eisenhower (7-1). Greenfield slipped to 7-2 in the division.
Strong pitching both ways
Schmidt's big hit broke up a classic pitcher's duel between Whitnall junior Carolyn Dudek, who allowed just two hits and struck out seven, and Greenfield freshman Alexis Kirkpatrick, who surrendered six hits and fanned 10.
"(Dudek) pitched a real fine game tonight," Whitnall coach Gary Caliva said. "I don't think she made many mistakes at all. This was exactly what we needed tonight."
Greenfield coach Jack Miller also commended the effort of Dudek, who had struggled with a finger injury one night earlier in a loss to Eisenhower.
"She was spectacular," Miller said. "Right from the start, I told my assistant coach, Russ O'Keefe, that she really looked 'on.' She gave up a rifle shot to Alex Sokol to begin the game, but I still thought she looked good. She stifled us; she moved the ball around, and they played solid defense. We just couldn't figure her out."
Miller had equally strong praise for his pitcher, Kirkpatrick.
"Lexi really pitched well, even with some letdowns by our defense," he said. "She was able to overcome that and didn't let it get to her mentally. She stayed mentally tough and got out of (jams) a few times."
In fact, even when Whitnall had runners on base in the airtight game, Kirkpatrick came up with a few smiles on the mound.
"She is really poised for a freshman," Miller said. "She's been pitching for a long time and has played in a lot of big tournaments."
After Sokol's single in the first inning, Dudek did not allow another hit until Lynn Pipke's single up the middle with one out in the seventh inning. The inning had opened with a walk to Andrea Solberg, so the Hustlin' Hawks had runners on first and second with the single.
They advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, but Dudek retired Alison Schell on a mile-high popup which she personally caught.
Dudek praised her defense, which went without an error and made all the routine plays flawlessly.
"I couldn't do it without my team behind me," Dudek continued. "I try to pitch my heart out, and I know I have a great defense behind me."
Kirkpatrick matched Dudek nearly pitch for pitch. Singles from Schmidt and Danielle Starke put runners at second and third in the third inning, but a pair of strikeouts helped her escape.
Schmidt reached third again in the fifth but Kirkpatrick ended that threat with another strikeout. In the sixth, the Falcons again had two runners on but Kirkpatrick responded with two more strikeouts.
They finally caught up with her in the deciding seventh.
"This is the kind of game that you want to come to watch," Caliva said. "It just was fun from both sides. Luckily, we got a hit when we needed it at the end."
Greenfield and Whitnall both enjoyed other success last week:
GERMANTOWN INVITE: The Hustlin' Hawks went 3-0 to win the event on Saturday. They beat New Berlin Eisenhower, 9-3; Germantown, 5-4; and Kettle Moraine Lutheran, 17-8, collecting a total of 44 hits. … Andrea Solberg went 9-for-15 with a home run and 10 runs batted in, while Randi Fennig was 8-for-16, Alexis Kirkpatrick 7-for-14 with five RBIs, Brooke Wilde 5-for-10 and Amber Polachek 4-for-8 with four RBIs
GREENFIELD 18, TOSA WEST 2: Alison Schell and Wilde each had three hits and combined for seven RBIs, while Fennig added two hits. … Fennig pitched the five-inning game and struck out seven.
GREENFIELD 4, CUDAHY 0: Kirkpatrick allowed six hits and struck out 10 and Polachek and Solberg each had two hits, with Polachek driving in two runs.
GREENFIELD 16, GREENDALE 1: The Hawks posted their second lopsided victory over the Panthers this season.
WHITNALL 11, TOSA WEST 1: Hannah Schmidt, Danielle Starke and Krista Stribling each had two hits. … Schmidt drove in four runs and Amber Rueth three.
WHITNALL 29, BROWN DEER 2: Lizzy Menden drove in six runs and Ann Bay three. … Sonia Garcia and Menden each had three hits.
EISENHOWER 10, WHITNALL 0: The Falcons managed just three hits and committed four errors.
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