Greenfield - Greendale gave Whitnall its first real test of the 2012 softball season on April 4, but the Falcons met the challenge.
The Panthers pushed across three runs in the bottom of the third inning for a 3-1 lead, but Whitnall tallied twice in each of the fourth and sixth frames to take a 5-3 advantage, then went on to a 6-3 victory.
The Falcons improved to 3-0 overall and, in the Woodland Conference, tied with New Berlin Eisenhower for the lead. Those two teams are set to meet at 4:15 p.m. April 17 at Eisenhower in an early-season showdown.
Greendale slipped to 2-1 overall and in the Woodland and will visit South Milwaukee at 4:15 p.m. April 17.
"The game was a great first test for our girls," Whitnall head coach Tom Hickman said. "We had to deal with our first bit of adversity when we gave up our first runs of the season."
In the third, the Panthers tallied two runs and had additional base runners. Whitnall pitcher Carolyn Dudek picked up a strikeout for the first out of the inning, then allowed a sacrifice fly for the third run before ending the inning on a groundout.
"Carolyn showed great poise to not get rattled," Hickman said.
The Falcons then answered with the pair of two-run innings to grab the lead, and they blanked Greendale the rest of the way with the help of a fine play by Lizzy Menden in center field.
Menden made a circus catch of a fly ball in deep center, then threw to third base to double off a runner who left early to help get Whitnall out of another jam in the fifth inning.
"This was the first time this year that we had to deal with runners on base and in scoring position, and that we had to play from behind," Hickman continued. "The composure that the girls showed was what I would expect if we were in the middle of the season, not week two. The ability of our girls to not get down says a lot about their resolve."
Liz Thon collected two hits and two runs batted in for the Falcons, while Renee Caron tripled in one run and finished with two RBIs as well. Maria James had two hits, including a triple, and stole two bases, and Kim Robinson also had two hits. Hickman said Robinson, Thon and Caron all played well in the field.
Dudek worked the entire game, allowing four hits and striking out seven.
For Greendale, Natalie Burton went 1-for-2 with an RBI and Heather Justus worked a complete game on the mound, giving up eight hits and fanning five.
Despite the loss, Panthers head coach Sarah Dominguez is optimistic about the season, which began with Greendale's first victory over rival Greenfield in six seasons.
"We are a young team with experience," Dominguez said. "I am very excited about the season and what we have done thus far. This is a very dedicated and fun group of ladies with a lot of talent."
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