Cougars Record Book Season Ends at State Semi-Final in Madison

By: 
Mike Wieting

MADISON - It was a season for the record books for the Coleman Cougars. They were undefeated in conference play with a conference championship to show for it, 21-5 overall, a regional championship and a first ever in school history sectional championship. There were home runs, plenty of K’s (DenRuyter’s 500th k), and stolen bases gathered in mass. The Cougars put on a dynamic exciting show this spring on area ball diamonds and certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to exciting showdowns. But the rolling wave that was the Cougars rally to the top finally broke this past Thursday at the sectional semi in Madison at Goodman Field, as the Cougars met a tough Fall Creek team that stole the wind from the Cougars sails leaving them with their first loss in over a month 12-0.

“The game against Fall Creek didn’t turn out how we would have liked,” said Coleman head coach Jean LeVash. “We knew going into the game, Fall Creek’s offensive strategy was “small ball.”  And we knew they were going to bunt a lot and were very fast on the bases.  We knew we would have to keep them off the bases in order to beat them.  I told the girls after the game, they needed to be proud of their season.  We made school history, as this was the first time in program history that a softball team made it to State.  I said think about how many softball teams are in Division 4.  We were one of the four to still be standing going into the State Tournament.  There are many softball programs in the State of Wisconsin that will never have this opportunity to play on Goodman Field.  It hurts now but out of the four teams, three will go home disappointed.  When you get this far, only one will go home happy with the Gold ball, winning their last game of the season.  Everyone else will have lost their last game.  Feel proud of what you have accomplished this season.”

But the defeat, though disappointing, did little to diminish the gains this team amassed over the season. Just examine this little tid-bit. 225-70. That’s how many runs to how many runs given that the Cougars carried this season. Powerful bats, smart base running and excellent fielding all played a massive part as to how the Cougars pulled that differential off. Oh yeah, and one heck of a stellar pitcher in the circle.  

That pitcher, of course is Courtney DenRuyter who finished off the season with 300 K’s. That right 300 strikeouts. During the season she also passed her 500th career strikeout, a milestone very few softball pitchers even get close to. That golden arm pitched 140 innings this season and allowed just 52 hits. The end this season won’t be the end of DenRuyter on the ball diamond. She will be continuing her softball career for Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa.

During the regular season, the Cougar bats sent four home runs over the fences. The hitters of those homers? Hailey Ermis, Macy Nowak, Alyssa Kurth and DenRuyter. There were also post season swats that went over the fence, Nowak being the one who obtained those hits. In a game against Bonduel she clubbed two and another was hit out of the park against Manawa. 

Anyone who was witness to any of the games played by the Cougars this season knew this team had plenty in their bag of tricks and found little surprising when they pushed their way through the playoffs and found themselves one of four teams in Div. 4 to be playing down in Madison. 

When examining their season schedule, the string of W’s the Cougar’s put together was impressive. Starting the season against Oconto they got the win train rolling with a 6-1 victory. Then went on to win the next eight games before having a hiccup against Hancock who took the first game in a double header 6-4 before the Cougar’s roared back with a venegcne to take the second game 15-5. With that win they put together a four win streak before meeting Pulaski and Menasha at the Pulaksi Invite, where they faced off with D1 schools

 “When playing in the Pulaski Invite against  D1 schools the kids played well,” said LeVash when asked what moments from the season stood out to her. “They proved to themselves, they could play ball against good teams and hang with them.  I think that is when they as players started to gain confidence and realize what they could actually accomplish. When we played Pulaski and Menasha there were extremely windy conditions.  We hung right in there with those two opponents.  Against Pulaski, one pitch changed the game.   Bases loaded and one of their batters got a hold of one and put it out of the park.  But were it not for that one at bat, that game could have gone either way.  I was very proud of how our team played that day.”

Even though the schools were in the first division of Wisconsin, the Cougars played like the division designation meant nothing, standing toe to toe with Pulaski in a 6-2 loss and Menasha in a 4-1 loss.

After those two loses the Cougars won every game up to the State Semi-final against Fall Creek.

But as the saying goes, it just wasn’t in the cards. In the world of sports, upsets and breakdowns are just how things go sometimes. And sometimes meteoric rises are met with just as meteoric of falls. 

The game with Fall Creek was no exception. After a scoreless top of the first by Coleman where Coleman was threatening with a Annabell Markiewicz run at second, Coleman took to defense and set the inning down in order. A ground out and two K’s, one looking and one swinging respectively. 

After the first inning it looked like the match might be an even showdown. But that was not what perspired as the Fall Creek girls strung together 7 runs on two hits.

The Cougars went down in order in the top of the third and saw Fall Creek amass another five runs to bring the tally to 12-0.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, there were just too few hits to be found in the last two innings. One hit was obtained by Norah Kinziger for a decent swat that found a gap in deep center field, netting her a triple. But the triple was unable to produce any runs as the next hitter grounded out to end the game in the fifth inning by way of 10 run rule.

Fall Creek’s Grace Herrem took the win allowing two hits and no runs whit six strike outs.

“I said many times, Control your own Destiny,” said LeVash. “Control what you can control, let the rest fall into place.   Watching them take their love and passion for the game and then grow and get better every day was enjoyable.  A lot of these kids have played together since 10u ball.  It was fun to watch them grow.”

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