SPASH softball tames Tigers, readies for playoffs
May 23, 2012By Todd VanderLoop of SPASH Softball
By Brian Kalish
May 22, 2012
Stevens Point– The SPASH Panthers used a six-run first inning and efficient pitching from Nicki Hauser and Nicole Zelhofer to easily beat the Tigers from Marshfield by the score of 15-5 in the final game of the regular season.
The Panthers got out to a quick start against Marshfield. SPASH loaded the bases in the first inning and benefited from a Gabby Strojny RBI single and Shelby Fields 2 RBI single to jump out to a 6-0 lead. Nicki Hauser continued to pound opposing pitching, knocking a double for SPASH in the first.
SPASH scored another run in the second as Strojny knocked in another run to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead. Strojny’s hit, a blooper over to left field, was classic “hit ‘it where they ain’t” softball.
Strojny, a freshman, said that while it is challenging to be a young player on a team with SPASH’s considerable history, she has relied on veteran team members to help her out this season.
“It’s a lot of pressure (to be a freshman on the team),” Strojny said. ”I just try to hustle everywhere I go and try the best that I can. I always ask the older players questions and they help me try to improve.”
“Strojny did a nice job offensively,” said SPASH head coach Tom Drohner. ”She’s a talented young lady and, offensively, I think some good things are going to come from her down the road.”
Marshfield broke through for three runs in the third against Hauser, including a double by sophomore Katie Treankler. However, SPASH came back in the bottom of the third for three more runs, highlighted by a Hauser RBI single and Smola 2 RBI single.
Marshfield added two runs in the top of the fourth, but would fall to the ten-run rule when Leah Soik knocked an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth to give SPASH the win.
Nicole Zelhofer came on in relief of Hauser to preserve the win for SPASH. Zelhofer struck out two batters in one inning of work.
SPASH was impressive on offense, and nearly everyone got in on the action. Carly Lass (3-4, 3B, 2SB), Hauser (3-4, 2B), Smola (2-4, 2B, 2RBI) and Strojny (3-4, 2 RBI) led the attack.
“I felt pretty confident today,” said Lass. ”We played them before, so we kind of knew what to expect. As a team, I think we’re feeling pretty good. We just need to stay confident and keep talking to one another and we’ll do great.”
Though the Panthers dominated their game with Marshfield, Drohner said there is still a lot of work to do if the team hopes to reach the ultimate goal: a second consecutive trip to Madison.
“I just think that in this particular game, we had a lot of young people playing, but that’s really no excuse (for being sloppy),” Drohner said. “You work your butt off for opportunities and what you do with those opportunities is totally up to you. I don’t think that, defensively especially, we did a very good job of seizing those opportunities. We’re not hustling like I want them to hustle all the time, it’s just not a consistent thing. We’re not where I want us to be in terms of hustling.”
SPASH is still waiting to see how seeding for the WIAA tournament will play out, but it is probable that the Panthers will end up with a #1.
Drohner is no stranger to the marathon that is the road to state and said that he will be working with the team on defense and hustle before they face their first tournament opponent.
“I always think that first game is the big one,” Drohner said. “You’ve got to get into the flow of that first game– so I’ll talk to them about the importance of practicing and practicing hard, with the idea that if you don’t practice hard, this could be your last time together as a team. Even though we’re a younger team, we’ve got a lot of experience. I think we’ll be ready.”