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Softball: Oconto rallies for regional title

6:24 PM, Jun. 2, 2014  |  Comments
Becky Berth pitches in the May 29 regional final against Bonduel.
Becky Berth pitches in the May 29 regional final against Bonduel.
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Seniors on the Blue Devils softball team were all smiles Thursday when they walked up to collect their regional title plaque after defeating Bonduel 4-2.

Not long before, fans in the crowd were biting their nails - and cheering encouragement - after the girls were struggling to rally against Bears ace Jen Dowden.

"We were struck out eight times," said Oconto coach Jeremy Wusterbarth. "Give some credit to Dowden... she's been average 6 to 10 per game."

After taking a 1-0 lead in the third, Bonduel scored runs on errors in the fourth and fifth innings.

Oconto went down 1-2-3 at the plate in each inning.

Becky Berth sent the Bears down in similar fashion at the top of the sixth.

The bottom of the sixth looked to start the same way the bottom of the firth ended, with a fly out to right. But the ball was dropped, and Kailey Trudeau pulled into second.

Berth smacked a single to right, scoring Trudeau, then reached second on a fielder's choice. Mykala Moes laced a single to center, and Berth raced home to take the lead.

Mykala Moes was relieved by courtesy runner Allyson Nerenhausen, who advanced to third on a single by Kelly Stewart.

Amber Westphal then grounded to short to score Nerenhausen, extending the lead to 4-2.

As Bonduel made the play to first to get Westphal, Wusterbarth tried to get Stewart into home. But she was shy in a play at the plate and called out to end the inning.

Berth was 3-for-3. Emily Shallow hit a triple in the third inning, scoring on single by Laken James.

"Errors put us down 2-1, but an error got us back in it and got us started," Wusterbarth said. "Things evened out, and our girls took and advantage of it."

Wusterbarth said he told the team before the game Bonduel was much better than its record, because of Dowden and because they play in the CWC, a tough conference that at one point in the season had four teams ranked in the top 10.

"I knew going in it was not going to be an easy game for us," he said.

However, Wusterbarth had a second message for the girls.

"I told them to remember how their girls spoiled our regional championship basketball game at home? you want to return the favor," he said, adding: "You've got find something to motivate them, and it did."

Oconto travels to Marathon Tuesday to play Marathon in a match-up of No. 1 seeds. Marathon defeated No. 3 seed Stratford 11-3.

The Blue Devils advanced to the regional final after rolling over Crandon 20-0 on May 27.

Berth allowed one hit in the five-inning win and drove in three runs, and James was 3-for-3 with a double and four RBIs.

Trudeau added a three-run home run for the Blue Devils, and Jaelyn Jicha was 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.

Bonduel came to Oconto after shutting out Crivitz. Dowden struck out nine.

■Besides Oconto Falls, the only other Oconto area team to play last week was Gillett, which lost its Division 4 semi-final game with N.E.W. Lutheran 9-4.

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