Menomonee Falls softball team clinches share of fourth straight Greater Metro Conference title

Home runs have been big part of success

Shown here at the state tournament last season, Menomonee Falls softball player Ashley Zdroik had a big home run in the Indians’ 4-2 win over Hamilton on May 15.

Shown here at the state tournament last season, Menomonee Falls softball player Ashley Zdroik had a big home run in the Indians’ 4-2 win over Hamilton on May 15. Photo By C.T. Kruger

May 19, 2014

Claire Mohrfeld just has too much on her plate.

The senior Menomonee Falls softball team shortstop graduates in a few weeks, drove with her family to the Minneapolis area last weekend to see big sister and former NOW Newspapers Player of the Year Hailey Mohrfeld take part in the NCAA Tournament for University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and, oh yes, succeeds grandly in helping the Indians toward greater glory this season.

That latter point was done in dramatic fashion with a grand slam home run in the bottom of the seventh that broke a 1-1 tie and beat Greater Metro Conference rival Brookfield Central 5-1 on May 14. Then the next day she helped the Indians clinch no worse than a tie for their fourth straight GMC title with a 4-2 victory over border rival Sussex Hamilton.

"We're really excited about everything," said Claire Mohrfeld. "Hailey and I have been talking a lot all week (about the NCAA tourney and Falls' season). It's awesome. ... This (conference) was our first goal. And absolutely we have the same goals as last year. Get back to state, prove we belong."

Home run to remember

And about the home run?

"Oh, I can hardly remember what the pitch was," she added. "I think it was a rise ball that didn't rise. It felt good the moment I hit it."

First-year coach Lou Sanicola shakes his head in amazement at the excitement his team is creating this season.

"You know, a game like that really shows the character of the team," he said. "We never gave up and were mentally tough.

"And we had the right person up (Mohrfeld)."

The Indians entered this week at 12-0 in Greater Metro Conference play and 19-4 overall. They started the week two games up on Central (8-2) in the loss column and will close the regular season this week with a trio of contests, including ones held earlier this week at home against Sussex Hamilton (May 19) and at nonconference opponent Arrowhead on May 21.

They will host Wauwatosa East at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at Wauwatosa East. Like the Central game last week, the Hamilton and East games will be played on the newly revamped and improved Ben Franklin School field.

The WIAA sectional seeding meetings were held May 21. The Falls squad will be battling 10th-ranked in state Watertown for the top spot. Falls beat Watertown in the sectional final to go to the WIAA state tournament last season. The tournament series starts on Tuesday, May 27, with regional semifinal action.

More time on field

Falls will hopefully get more time on the new Ben Franklin field in time for the tournament as the Indians scarcely had any time to practice on it before taking on Central on May 14.

The Indians needed Mohrfeld's blast to decide the contest as pitcher Kelly Berglund danced on the razor's edge all day, allowing just three hits but issuing seven walks to go along with seven strikeouts. The Lancers staked their ace, Crystal Sicard (nine strikeouts and four walks), to a lead in the top of the fifth but Falls tied the score in the bottom of the sixth, leading up to Mohrfeld's timely blast.

"I told them that we'd find a way to a victory," said Sanicola.

The long ball stayed in the Indians' arsenal against Hamilton as they scored all four of their runs in the first inning. Justine Ertl knocked in a run with an RBI single and then Stephanie Cole launched a two-run blast to left-center. Teammate Ashley Zdroik immediately followed that with a solo shot of her own to make it 4-0.

That was more than enough for Berglund, who scattered four hits with four strikeouts and one walk. The only time she ran into trouble was in the fifth when two errors, a mistake on a fielder's choice and some aggressive baserunning by the Chargers netted them two runs.

Offense not as sharp

Try as they might, the Indians could not get the runs back, putting two runners on in each of the next two innings but failing to get anyone home.

"The offense just hasn't been as sharp as normal," said Sanicola. "Hopefully, things will catch up soon. Right now, we're finding ways to just get enough."

Still, he was happy to pull out a couple of victories like this.

"I told the kids yesterday (after Central) that it's fun to be in games like this," he said. "Win or lose you appreciate how much fun it is to be in a close contest where every play matters."

"We're really happy right now," said Berglund. "We're an experienced team and games like this motivate us to play our hardest."

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