Softball: Badgers rout Wausaukee, 18-8

NiagaraÕs Marissa Blosser (15) celebrates with teammates after hitting a three-run home run against Wausaukee on Monday, May 14, 2018, in Niagara, Wis. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

NIAGARA, Wis. — A shaky start didn’t slow Niagara in an 18-8 M&O Conference win over Wausaukee on Monday.

The Badgers (5-4, 2-1) fell to a 3-0 deficit in the first inning. All of Wausaukee’s runs were unearned.

“First inning we gave them three unearned, which will kill you,” Niagara head coach Duane Blagec said. “We fought back and I knew we could score runs because we’ve been putting a lot of runs up lately. You hate to give up three unearned in the top of the first. We held them to eight runs and we put up a boatload. That’s a tribute to the girls for fighting back.”

Then it became a battle of the bats for both teams.

Niagara responded with a four-run second and a five-run third to take a 9-3 lead.

Wausaukee (7-5, 3-3) added five runs in the third through fifth innings to tighten the score at 13-8.

The Badgers responded with a five-run sixth to invoke the mercy-rule win.

Jayden Payette pitched for Niagara and gave up 11 hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

Allison Wells paced Niagara’s offense with a 3 for 5 day at the plate. Marissa Blosser’s three-run home run in the fourth gave Niagara a 13-8 lead. Blosser was 3 for 5. Destany Bourasa was 2 for 3.

It was an unexplainable game defensively for the Rangers, who lost in the state semifinals last season, head coach Sue Stoltenberg said.

“Our team needs a little bit of a reset. We’re a much better team than this,” she said. “Credit to Niagara, they put runners on base and put a lot of pressure on our defense. Quite frankly we didn’t handle it very well tonight. We’re a much better defense than this. I’m not really sure what that was all about. There’s some bad juju going on or something.”

Wausaukee is in very different territory from last year, indeed, sitting fifth in M&O Conference standings. Stoltenberg said when the team’s bats quieted, adjustments should have been made sooner.

“We should’ve moved up in the box a little bit better and capitalized on some of that,” she said. “We should’ve been able to play better than what we did. It’s frustrating.”

Blagec said before the season that with a young roster (seven of 14 girls on roster are freshmen and sophomores) and so many players in new positions, it could be a rebuilding year. Now, the Badgers are third in the M&O Conference standings, two games behind Coleman.

“It was a short rebuilding year,” Blagec quipped. “That’s a testament to the girls for their hard work and the changes Dale made.”

Before the season, Blagec brought on his brother Dale as an assistant coach.

“He said (he’d join) ‘Only if we make some changes,'” Duane said. “He changed some of our base-running. Our defense is more aggressive with throws. We’re less passive and more aggressive. We’ve probably thrown out 10 runners at home plate. The changes have made a big difference.”

The Badgers host M&O Conference front-runner Coleman at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Wausaukee 301 130 — 8 11 4

Niagara 045 135 — 18 17 5