Greenfield — Greenfield - Greenfield Hustlin' Hawks softball coach Jack Miller was only half joking when he said his team's goal for the upcoming state tournament was to score a run.
You see, Miller will be taking his third Greenfield squad to the WIAA State Softball Tournament today. The Hawks (21-6) face Chippewa Falls (22-5) at approximately 3:30 p.m. at Goodman Diamond in Madison.
In Miller's previous two trips, his team was shut out in quarterfinal games in 1999 and 2006. The Hawks also lost their only game in their first appearance in 1983.
"We're going in there with an open mind to win the thing, but baby steps," Miller said.
Center fielder Sarah Fisher and shortstop Stacey Butts, who started as freshmen on the 2006 state team, agreed.
"We go in and take it one pitch at a time," Fisher said. "We're young so we're going to be fired up. We're hitting really good and hopefully that will continue on."
Added Butts: "Obviously we want to win, but we just want to play hard and play the best that we can and if we play well, we should do fine."
Miller said this year's state trip feels different than his previous two. Those teams were loaded with talent and more was expected of those units than the current one.
"If you had told me this back in March when we started that we'd win the (Woodland) conference (South Division) and go to state, I'd say that would be an awfully tough challenge," he said. "We've had a number of strong teams over the years and lots of accomplishments, but this team - and I'm not just saying this because it's most recent; I mean it sincerely - this is our most gutsiest team.
"We've got girls playing out of position all over. We've got a left-handed shortstop (Butts); we've got a first-year girl (Andrea Solberg) at first base. We've got a girl (Alex Sokol) who didn't even play softball until last year in right field. To see the progress that they made is really, really satisfying."
Getting through the sectional was no easy task. The second-seeded Hawks defeated top-seeded Muskego (16-10), 7-5, in a wacky final after shutting out sixth-seeded Waterford, 3-0, in a semifinal, both games at Konkel Park on June 4.
Third inning turns weird
In the top of the third inning of the final with the Hawks ahead, 1-0, Greenfield's Erika Wotnoske swung and missed at strike two in the dirt. The Warriors thought it was strike three and catcher Kelly Adams tagged Wotnoske. After Wotnoske took off for first - Muskego coach John Rosenberg said on-deck hitter Shannon Butts pushed her to get her going - Adams threw the ball to first, even though there was no way to get Wotnoske out. When Adams threw, Fisher, who was at third, raced home and scored.
"I don't even know what they're going to say about this game," Fisher said. "Me scoring on that play, I had no idea what was going on. I just ran. We really stuck with it and were mentally prepared."
In the bottom of the third, Muskego scored three times. Greenfield's Ashley Lewandowski was called for obstruction on a play at third base involving Shelly Adamczyk when Adamczyk slid into Lewandowski who was blocking the home plate side of the bag. After a few moments of confusion, Lewandowski threw the ball to second base trying to get a runner advancing from first, meanwhile allowing Adamczyk to score.
"It verged on a farce for about two innings there," Rosenberg said. "Nobody knew what was going on. Jack was complaining. I was complaining. And they were three pretty decent officials. To lose control in that fashion, it was really weird."
Trailing 7-4, Muskego scored a run in the bottom of the seventh and had the tying run at the plate before Shannon Butts, who allowed just four singles in the semifinal victory, got Nikki Guhr to ground out. That left the Warriors' a few runs shy of their second state appearance and first since 1996.
WHAT: WIAA Division 1 State Softball Tournament
WHEN: June 11 and 13
WHERE: Goodman Diamond, Madison
QUARTERFINALS: June 11: Waunakee (21-4) vs. Watertown (21-4), 9 a.m.; Stevens Point (24-3) vs. Kenosha Bradford (23-1), approx. 11 a.m.; Appleton East (24-4) vs. Menomonee Falls (19-3), 1:30 p.m.; Chippewa Falls (22-5) vs. Greenfield (21-6), approx. 3:30 p.m.
SEMIFINALS: June 11: Waunakee/Watertown winner vs. Stevens Point/Bradford winner, 6 p.m.; Appleton East/Menomonee Falls winner vs. Chippewa Falls/Greenfield winner, approx. 8 p.m.
FINAL: June 13: 5:30 p.m.
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