Coleman Advances to Sectional Final with Win Over Manawa

By: 
Mike Wieting

CRIVITZ – The Coleman Cougars are off to the State Semi-Final in Madison this Thursday, earning the spot in the Div. 4 field after bagging their first ever Sectional Title with a thrilling 4-2 win over the Random Lake Rams Thursday May 30th in Crivitz.

It was a game of big pitches, big catches and big hits as the Cougars dug deep into their bag of tricks to stun the Rams and take home the coveted Div. 4 Sectional championship plaque.

Random Lake certainly didn’t make it easy for the Cougars. They took the field during the first inning and made a couple statements with a couple runs, leaving all Coleman fans in attendance holding their breath. But they didn’t have to hold that breath very long though, as Coleman fired back with a vengeance in the bottom half of the first to steal the lead 3-2.

“We definitely settled in after getting out of that first inning,” said Coleman head coach Jean LeVash. “If we didn’t have that bobble out there we probably would have entered the bottom of the first 0-0. But they got us for two. I was thinking, well maybe it’s nerves. But what was just great to see was us getting three right out of the gates in the bottom of the inning. That really settled us in, and from there we just settled down and played our game like we know how.”

Like every game this season for the Cougars they had their CD spinning. And no, not a compact disc but the one and only Courtney DenRuyter. After a slight hiccup in the first, she started spinning together a series of pitches that left Random Lake reeling and looking for a way to save their season. But there would be no light as the pitches kept coming in at blistering speed while the defense started making huge plays to say no way Random Lake.

“Again everybody just did their jobs tonight,” said LeVash. “Alyssa (Kurth) did another amazing job catching behind plate. And Courtney had another great game. She had to battle a little tonight but she was on a mission. Some of the kids have not been fully trusting themselves to make plays, but tonight they trusted themselves. That has been our conversation all week. Just go back to trusting yourselves and trusting what got you here. Trust your bats, trust your gloves, and just trust what you’re doing. I really thought that trust came back tonight.”

The game started with one of DenRuyter’s eight k’s on the day. But the tone that seem to be getting set was shattered by a Madelyn Abler hopper toward first base for a single. Jayla Harter followed with a fly out to left field which was followed by an Alivia Stefanich hit to deep right field which was dropped, giving Stefanich a double and scoring a run. Ava Daggett grounded to second and again a fielding error allowed for a base off the hit. With runners on second and third Lily Klien smacked a single, scoring Stefanich. Coleman’s Hope Forner made a quick move to get the Cougars out of the tough inning when the Rams’ Laila Sanders hit a bouncing grounder down the first base line which was chased down by Forner who tossed to the covering player for the third out.

At this point it looked like the Cougars may have met their match. But an unpahsed group of Cougar hitters were determined to show the Rams what they were made of.

Starting off the bottom of the first Coleman’s Annabell Markiewicz fired right back at the Rams connecting with a pitch which she sent to deep center all the way to the warning track, for the double. Montana Fonder followed with another shot, this one to shallow left which fell just out of reach of the left fielder, netting another double.

With runners on second and third DenRuyter stepped to the plate and hit a liner to left field scoring Markiewicz to bring the score to 2-1 rams.

Alyssa Kurth was the next Cougar to make an opening inning statement as she singled through the short stop gap. With an error committed on the fielding of the grounder Fonder sprinted to the plate for a 2-2 tie.

Alyssa Hoida recorded an RBI in her at bat of the inning with a ground out that allowed DenRuyter to cross in for the 3-2 lead.

During the top of the second inning DenRuyter got back to work, striking out Reese Theis on a 1-3 count. In the second at bat Random Lake hit a single bounce grounder, which was hit straight back at DenRuyter who was quick off the hop to snag it and throw her out at first.

After a walk, one of the game’s biggest moments of the game occurred. After suffering a fielding error the inning before Coleman’s right fielder Shakira Marks chased down a high fly ball to shallow right field diving for the catch and making the unbelievable snag to end the inning.

Coleman’s next score came in the bottom of the third when DenRuyter reached off a fielder’s choice, stole second and then went home off a huge hit by Macy Nowak to deep left field.

Nowak got in on the amazing catches during the game in the top of the fourth when a liner that appeared to put of her reach, actually wasn’t, as she reached out for the leaping extended catch at third base. 

Coleman’s Markiewicz also made an astounding diving catch in center field during the top of the fifth helping to make quick work of the innings lineup which ended with a DenRuyter strikeout.

The top of the sixth was chewed up in quick fashion by the Cougars as DenRuyter K’ed the first two of the lineup before a ground out to second ended the inning.

The Rams made one last effort in the top of the seventh as Madelyn Abler tripled down the left field line. She was followed by a Jayla Harter walk with one out. DenRuyter struck out Random Lakes’ Stefanich who went down swinging while Norah Kinziger locked the game up by covering a ground ball to second which she then tossed to first for the final out of the game.

DenRuyter’s pitching win saw her strike out eight Rams while allowing four hits and two unearned runs and walking five.

Random Lakes’ Jayla Harter allowed five hits, four runs (1 earned) and no walks while striking out 4.

At the plate Coleman’s DenRuyter was one of three with one run and one RBI. Hoida and Nowak were both one of three with an RBI each while Markiewicz and Fonder both went one of three with one run each.

 “We’ve made it to the first round of sectionals before,” said LeVash. “But this team has never been to the sectional finals. It feels great to finally get this win. I’m still absorbing this. It has been so much fun and just a great journey this far, and I’m just at a loss for words right now.”

COLEMAN – The Coleman Cougar Softball team made good on their Regional Championship win by making a further advancement Tuesday, May 28 by surviving a close call against the visiting Manawa Wolves 2-1.

The game saw two more than competent pitchers duel it out in the circle. One was sporting one of the more intense fastballs in the whole Div.4 field, and another throwing a very tricky changeup.

For the Cougars it was the always dangerous Courtney DenRuyter, spinning some serious heat from the circle, while Manawa’s Zielke played some mind games at the plate with a changeup that literally dropped off the face of the earth when reaching the plate.

Macy Nowak also showed up big yet again for the Cougars as she slammed out her third homer in two straight games. This one a fourth inning lead off solo slam that gave the Cougars their first run of the night.

Coleman also scored another run in the fifth inning when Annabell Markiewicz singled to lead off and went home a short while later.

Manawa scored their only run in the seventh and final inning.

Manawa opened the game with a single turned into a stolen second base which seemed to create a threatening situation for the Cougars. But DenRuyter k’ed the next would be hitter and then the next one a full count to save the inning.

Coleman’s big hitter, Macy Nowak, clubbed a shot in the bottom of the first that had some serious height and depth and it nearly fell when the center and left fielders collided during the process of fielding. But the iron glove center fielder hung on and ended the inning with the out.

Top of the second saw the Wolves ground out on the first hitter and then lose two chances at scores due to a full count strike out by DenRuyter and a 1-3 count K to end the inning.

Coleman placed runners on during the second innings bottom half when Alyssa Hoida hit a liner over the short stop followed by a walk from Maddy Straub. With runners on first and second the inning came to end after a pop up to second was caught for the third out.

During the bottom of the third inning Hope Forner showed off her hustle abilities and chased down a hopper to first base for the second out of the inning then reeled in a liner to first for the third out.

“I’ll tell ya, Hope Forner probably had the game of her career tonight,” said Coleman head coach Jean LeVash. “She had like three or four balls over there and was just a magnet. She has been so good for us at first base this year but tonight was probably her best ever. She reads the ball well.”

Then came the fourth and with it that huge shot by Macy Nowak which cruised high and long over the center field fence. She was followed by another good shot to the outfield by Hoida, who hit a liner to deep center. The hit created what appeared to be enough time for the runner on first to make a play at the plate. But the throw out coming from deep center was right on the spot as the tag ended the chance at a second run. Hoida made it to third off the hit. With Hoida sitting on third and a runner on second the Cougars were in position for another score. But a pop up ended the inning.

“Courtney pitched lights out tonight,” said LeVash. “Macy came through with another big home run to get us on the board! It was just another great team effort and team win. Montana ran the bases beautifully and got us extra bases. Kurth did another excellent job behind plate for Courtney. Everyone did something spectacular out there tonight.”

During the top of the fifth DenRuyter clipped the lower leg of a Manawa batter to start the inning but recovered by striking out the next two would be hitters. The runner stole second and third to get into potion before DenRuyter said no way, K’ing the final out of the inning.

Leading off the bottom of the fifth, Markiewicz hit a bouncing grounder to short, which was bobbled by the short stop leading to her getting a single. Montana Fonder followed with an excellent bunt that dropped perfectly not far from the plate. Using her speed Fonder made the trip to first safely. With no outs and runners on first and second base, DenRuyter clubbed a deep fly ball to center, giving both Coleman runners enough time to tag up and progress one base each. Nowak also got hold of a Manawa pitch in the next at bat, this time giving Markiewicz time to tag up and go home for the nights second run.

The top of the sixth saw an excellent play by Alyssa Kurth. The Coleman catcher was quick to nab a pop up near the plate for a quick out to set the tone of the inning.

As the game entered its final innings the rain, which till this point had been holding off, final started to fall, giving the sixth and seventh innings a little extra challenge for both teams.

Coleman who was holding the 2-0 lead had to hold its breath a bit during the game’s final half inning as Manawa put together a last ditch attempt at meeting the lead. Manawa’s leadoff hitter started things off with a double to the warning track and then stole third before DenRuyter K’ed the next hitter for the first out. Then a bouncing grounder to third let the runner make a play at the plate for Manawa’s first run. Another Manawa hitter singled to shallow left to post runners at second and first. But DenRuyter who seems to thrive in big moments dug in and struck out the final out of the game.

During her seven innings pitched DenRuyter allowed three hits and one earned run while walking one and amassing a hefty 14 strikeout toll on the Manawa hitters.

Manawa’s Zielke took the loss allowing seven hits, two earned runs, four walks and a home run. She struck out four Cougars on the night.

 “Their pitcher was certainly hard to hit tonight,” said LeVash. “This is probably why they were in it during so many games this year. If you look at their conference it was always 50-50 if they were going to win. But I can see now why they were in it for so many of them.”

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