By RON DEUTER
NIAGARA, Wis. - Niagara's varsity softball is off and running.
Ron Deuter/The Daily News Photo
Niagara’s Brook Ermi prepares to take a cut during the bottom of the second inning Monday at Riverside Field. Ermi knocked in the Lady Badgers’ first run with a single through the right side. Britney Stepien worked behind the plate for Goodman-Pembine.
The Lady Badgers played their first home contest Monday afternoon at Riverside Field, bowing to Goodman-Pembine 15-4.
The game marked just the second time Niagara has been able to take the field this spring. After spending several weeks inside the gym, the Badgers opened their delayed season Saturday with a 13-1 setback at Wausaukee. Prior to that game, the team was only outside for three practices.
"I think we did OK for it being our second game," Niagara head coach Emily Payette said. "We were excited for our first home game, and I imagine the girls had some jitters. It was nice to see such a nice crowd too."
Niagara shows 16 players on its roster, with no seniors. Becky Beauchamp, Marah Harvath, Maison Huth and Emilee Pelligrini make up the Badgers' junior class. Sophomore players include: Mackenzie Gregg, Courtney Marquardt, Kate Nawn and Ksandra Urbanek. Niagara has eight freshmen in Ambrielle Amundson, Alexis Biehl, Cailyn Branback, Brook Ermi, Makayla Jacobs, Laura Norman, Emily Schabel, Casey Spigarelli.
"We are a young team," Payette said. "We have 14 who played little league softball last year, but for many this is only their second year of softball.
"I think we'll be competitive. We just have a few things to work through."
With the late start this spring, Wisconsin teams barely have three weeks of a regular-season remaining.
"I want to see improvement each game," Payette said. "If we can show improvement each game and from the beginning of the season to the end, that's all I'm looking for."
The Badgers fell behind 7-0 after two innings Monday, but recouped three of those runs. Brook Ermi plated the first run in the bottom of the second with a single into right. Cailyn Branback shot an RBI hit up the middle in the third, and Maison Hugh later drew a bases-loaded walk.
"It was a game, they didn't give up," Payette said. "That's another thing I am trying to instill in them. It could be a 9-3 ball game, but in softball, you could get that back in one inning."
Ermi suffered the loss in the circle. Marah Harvath pitched the final two innings for Niagara.
Harvath was the only Badger with more than hit in the game, collecting two singles. Courtney Marquardt, Makayla Jacobs and Laura Norman also had hits for the Lady Badgers.
Goodman-Pembine, coming off 15-1 and 8-1 losses at Laona-Wabeno to open their season, plated four in the first off Niagara. The big blow of the frame was bases-clearing hit through the left side by Gabbi Johnson. Marissa Maloney added a RBI single to right later in the inning.
The Patriots added three more in the second. Johnson brought in one of those runs with a groundout to shortstop. Teddy Peed had a run-scoring single up the middle in the third, and Kiarah Betka brought in another run with an infield hit.
"It was a good win for us," Patriots coach Sara Seidel said. "We needed something to get our confidence up. We've got a lot of young girls on our team, so we needed this at the beginning of the season."
Jenna Decker, who picked up the win in the circle with a complete-game, eight-strikeout effort, plated two more Patriots runs in the sixth when she rounded the bases after ripping a ball into deep right field.
Goodman-Pembine pulled away in the final frame. Rachel Stankevich belted a triple to the right center gap for one RBI, and Decker collected two more RBI with a single to center.
Niagara (0-2) has a doubleheader at Marinette this afternoon. Goodman-Pembine (1-2) also plays again today, traveling to White Lake.
Good.-Pembine 432 002 4 - 15
Niagara 012 000 1 - 4