Cardinals belt three homers to claim regional championship
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT – The No. 1-seeded Pacelli Cardinals softball team entered the first two games of the playoffs by playing familiar faces.
Two days after taking out Rosholt, the Cardinals were back for more.
Pacelli showed off its power, muscling three balls over the fence in a 14-1 win over No. 4-seeded Wild Rose on May 25.
Junior Hannah Trzinski led the offense with three hits and five RBIs, including a grand slam.
Senior Laine Ilkka and freshman Kelsea Giese both watched balls fly over the fence in the win, while each had two RBIs.
Freshman Kaydyn Nelson also finished with two hits and drove in two runs.
Being called regional champions again is something the team strived for after losing 11-7 last season to Newman Catholic.
“That’s one of the things the girls were talking about last week already. The sophomores were talking to the freshman, saying ‘We lost at this time, and it’s not happening again,’” Coach Ann Molski explained. “Their resolve and their work, they made it through.”
Ilkka gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead on an RBI single to open the scoring in the second.
Pacelli packed the bases before Trzinski got a shot at the plate.
The junior found the sweet spot and launched a grand slam home run to center, making it a 5-0 game.
The Cardinals weren’t done. Two batters later, freshman Kelsea Giese got to round the bases after a two-run shot that put Pacelli up 7-0.
Sophomore Peyton Mancl got the start for Pacelli in the circle and had command for most of the game.
Wild Rose got a few base runners, but Pacelli’s defense worked out of it.
Pacelli continued the scoring in the third with a leadoff home run by Ilkka, extending the lead to eight, 8-0.
The scoring continued for the Cardinals, taking a 14-0 lead before the Wildcats finally got a run in the fifth.
Mancl closed out her complete game in the fifth, striking out eight batters in the win.
The Cardinals get another familiar face in the sectional semifinal, facing No. 2-seeded Almond-Bancroft for a third time.
“We’re going to continue to take one thing at a time, one game at a time and keep moving forward,” Molski said. “Two days of practice and another game on Tuesday.”
That game will be played at Spud Field at the Woyak Sports Complex in Plover on Tuesday, May 30.