The Wausau West softball team was one strike away from its fourth straight loss to open play in the Wisconsin Valley Conference Wednesday afternoon when Mikayla Kramer changed the Warriors’ fortunes with one dramatic swing.
The leftfielder’s two-run home run to right field off Marshfield’s Caitlyn Kozik on a full count tied the game with two outs in the seventh inning, and West’s Sara Hillery blooped a hit to short left field in the eighth to score Chloe Springer and give the Warriors a 6-5 win — their first in conference play this spring.
The home run was the first in Kramer’s varsity career.
“The pitch was really good. I swung and it just popped right off the bat,” said Kramer, the No. 5 hitter in the Warriors’ lineup. “I just started running … then I got to first and looked up and it was already on the other side of the fence.”
The Warriors needed a late-inning rally after Marshfield erupted for five runs in the sixth inning after being held to just two hits by West pitcher Sammy Laatsch over the first five innings. The Tigers took advantage of two walks, a wild pitch and an error, and Jessi Lyon singled home two runs to give the Tigers their first lead at 4-3.
Hillery and Jordyn Keltner were retired in order to open West’s seventh inning, then Liz Meier — who tripled in the third inning –lined a 0-2 pitch to center for a hit and would have been thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, but the throw to second was high and off-target.
That set the stage for Kramer.
“She’s been hitting well all season, and she does hit with a lot of power,” West coach Janna Hillman said. “I was hoping for a big hit, and that’s the first home run of her career, so she’s pretty excited.
“(The win) is big because we started out with SPASH and Everest last week (in the WVC) and struggled at times. I thought we played Point much better (Monday),” Hillman added. “We had a lot of hits and scored some runs on them, so I thought going into today, our kids had some confidence. We had a few letdowns today, but for them to battle back and not quit says a lot for this team.”
WP-Sammy Laatsch. LP-Caitlyn Kozik. 2B-WW, Liz Meier. 3B-WW, Laatsch, Meier. HR-WW, Mikayla Kramer.
Records: Wausau West 2-4, 1-3 Wisconsin Valley Conference; Marshfield 0-8, 1-3 WVC.