Cardinals fly high
Pacelli softball claims first state championship since 2015
By Jacob Heid
MADISON – From the first swing of the bat this spring, the Pacelli softball team created an unmatched bond.
They used that bond to navigate to a D5 state championship, beating No. 3 Oakfield in the state championship game, 9-6, at Goodman Diamond in Madison on Jun. 10.
“Believable but unbelievable, how about that,” Coach Ann Molski said as she put feelings into words after winning the championship. “Every year we have this goal to get to sectionals, to get to state.”
After falling behind early in the state semifinal, the Cardinals attacked the plate early.
Junior Hannah Trzinski drove in teammate Katy Ilkka on a grounder for Pacelli’s first run.
Trzinski finished the game with four RBIs
Sophomore Kaylin Yenter piped a double to deep left field later in the inning to grab a 2-0 lead.
The first five batters in the lineup combined for eight of the 11 hits in the game.
Pacelli got five more across in the second, starting with a Laine Ilkka double that scored Amelia Martini to make it 3-0.
With one out, two consecutive hits loaded the bases as Trzinksi stepped into the box.
The junior unloaded on a pitch and ran into third base to drive in three runs.
“[The girls] took the pitches that were given and went with it. You’re only going to get a couple of pitches, so if that first pitch is the pitch that’s ready to go, if that’s your pitch, go for it,” Molski said about the approach in the box.
“Find your zone and hit through the ball.”
Trzinski got back in the circle for the Cardinals in the third and a seven-run cushion.
Oakfield finally got on the board in the third, which cut it to a 7-1 game.
Trzinski pitched into the fifth inning before Peyton Mancl came in after a lead-off double by the Lady Oaks in the sixth.
Mancl and Trzinski have created a special connection and supported each other through the two games in Madison and many more.
“We have had an amazing bond ever since freshman year. We’ve always just gotten along and it has always just clicked,” Mancl said about the friendship with Trzinski.
The junior was unanimously voted the team captain and is the team’s biggest supporter when out on the field.
“She’s fire, she’s got that ice in her veins but she also has raw emotion,” Molski said about Trzinski.
Mancl also had ice in her veins in the two innings of work during the championship game.
Oakfield put full pressure on Pacelli in the final two innings, scoring four runs to close the gap.
Holding onto a 9-5 lead, Mancl got a strikeout with the bases loaded to close the door in the sixth.
She also ended the game on a called strike three to put the Cardinals into full celebration mode.
The majority of the state championship team will be back for the 2024 softball season.