T-Birds blanked in semifinal
Iola-Scandinavia girls make first trip to state
By Greg Seubert
After gaining momentum through the postseason with regional and sectional championships, the Iola-Scandinavia softball team’s season came to a screeching halt in the state semifinals.
The Thunderbirds, in the program’s first trip to state, ended up on the short end of a 10-0 score June 9 in a WIAA Division 4 matchup with Horicon at Goodman Diamond in Madison. Horicon will now face Grantsburg for the Division 4 state championship Saturday, June 11.
Winning pitcher Lizzie Gibbs had three of Horicon’s 14 hits, drove in a pair of runs and held the T-Birds to five hits, all singles.
The Marshladies took a 1-0 lead after Paige Boeck led off the bottom half of the first inning with a double and eventually scored on Angelica Bushkie’s ground out.
Iola-Scandinavia’s best opportunity came in the top of the second, as Alexa Christoph, Maddie Much and Myah Heschke singled to load the bases with nobody out. However, Gibbs retired Chloe Timdal on strikes and got out of the jam with a double play.
The T-Birds had only two hits the rest of the game.
“We just couldn’t get some solid hits from our better hitters that we usually count on,” coach Tom Anderson said. “Credit their pitcher. We should be able to hit her, but we were just popping them up. I don’t know exactly how many we had in the game, but we had enough on them.”
Horicon added to its lead with another run in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth before ending the game with five runs in the sixth.
Emma Miller walked in the third and scored on Bushkie’s triple; Mercedez Heller and Jamie Anderson had RBI hits in the fourth; and Miller reached on a bunt single in the fifth and scored on Gibbs’ single to give Horicon a 5-0 lead.
Bushkie drove in a pair of runs with a single in the sixth inning. Bushkie and Miller advanced to second and third on wild pitches and both scored on Cyri Reinwand’s single. Reinwand moved to third on another wild pitch and scored the game’s final run on another single from Gibbs.
Miller, Bushkie and Heller had two hits for the Marshladies, while Miller scored a game-high three runs.
The trip to state was Anderson’s first in 31 seasons of coaching the team.
“We’ve been close several times and the community comes together,” he said. “We have good crowds at our games and it’s very enjoyable.”
Several fans showed up at the school earlier in the day to send the team off to Madison.
“I started thinking about all the players I’ve had,” Anderson said. “I’ve had so many players that have come so close to this situation. I was thinking of them. As I was looking out in the crowd, I saw a lot of former players. I got a lot of text messages from them being very happy for me and happy for the program.”
Anderson said he isn’t worried about how the loss will affect his players.
“They’ll bounce back pretty quickly,” he said. “The message will be, ‘Proud of them, first team from Iola-Scandinavia to make it to state.’”
The T-Birds will lose only two seniors from the team – Christoph and Makayla Much – but Anderson said they will be missed.
“Two big seniors, not only their talent they have on the field, but their leadership in the locker room,” he said. “We do have some younger girls coming up and we have our sophomore pitchers. They’ll get better and hopefully, we can make a run again next year.”