The Hortonville softball team kept Green Bay Preble from earning its first trip to the state tournament Thursday.
Hortonville beat Preble 9-5 at Appleton East, qualifying for state for the sixth time in program history and the first time since 2005.
“It means the world,” Hortonville coach Bob Pethke said. “It’s pretty neat stuff.
“The girls were ecstatic and they should have been. They worked hard for this. This is everybody’s dream that a lot of people don’t get to experience, so it’s pretty awesome.”
The Polar Bears (21-3) will play Verona in a quarterfinal at 11 a.m. Thursday at Goodman Diamond in Madison.
“That’s a great team,” Pethke said of Preble. “They have a heck of a good pitcher. I mean, she is tough. We made some good hits. We hit the ball hard on some tough pitches, such as Preble did off Sammi (Sullivan).”
Preble (21-3) was hoping to become the first Green Bay public school to make state for softball, but it will have to wait for at least another year.
“They hurt so bad, because they had worked so hard,” said Preble coach Ron Metzler, whose team earned a No. 1 seed after winning the FRCC championship. “That was a dedicated, dedicated gang.”
Hortonville scored three runs in the third to go up 4-2 against Preble senior ace Anna Conard, then added two more in the fourth inning to take what appeared to be a comfortable 6-2 lead.
Preble was able to come back against Hortonville sophomore Sullivan, cutting the deficit to 6-4 entering the fifth.
This time Preble couldn’t get out of it, giving up a three-run double to Hortonville junior Taylor Allen with two outs that put the Polar Bears up 9-4.
“That hit was huge,” Metzler said. “We had brought it back from 6-2, got it to 6-4 and were feeling good. It was a tough hit. You give that team credit. They worked a walk or whatever they did. Got little hits. Then the one kid bombed one.
“I give them credit.”
WP: Sullian. LP: Conard. Leading hitters: Jordan Brennan H 2×5; Ally Fox H 2×4; Katie Uhlenbrauick 2×4, 3B; Caitlin Hoerning 2×5; Taylor Allen 2×4.