A three-run fifth inning was the difference for the Ripon High School Tiger softball team as it lost to the undefeated Winneconne Wolves 4-1 last week Thursday on the road.
The three-run loss is the closest Ripon has come to defeating the Wolves since it swept a doubleheader in 2013. Ripon lost by four runs on a pair of occasions, which included in 2019.
Despite being competitive with the Wolves, who are one of the better teams in the East Central Conference and have a good pitcher, Ripon head coach Mike Makarewicz doesn’t want to accept moral victories.
“It shows we’re good enough to beat the best teams in the conference,” he said. “[It was] very good to keep it close, but we can’t settle for keeping it close. We’ve got to win those close games. Our bats just are ice cold; we’re not hitting the ball. Once we start hitting the ball, we’re going to be dangerous.”
Ripon finished the game with just three hits, one of which was a lead-off double by Laila Simonis in the third inning. Kylie Disterhaft ran for Simonis and eventually scored on an Erika Mills RBI groundout that gave the Tigers a 1-0 advantage. Emily Kasuboski and Lexi Miller recorded Ripon’s other hits.
The lack of hitting wasn’t the only problem that plagued the Tigers. They also committed a few costly errors, which led to three of the four runs scoring. The first miscue came in the bottom of the third inning and was followed by a two-out triple to tie the game.
Two more errors were committed in the three-run fifth.
The three errors put a damper on Simonis performance in the circle as she allowed the four runs, one earned, on seven hits and a walk in seven innings of work. She struck out two batters.
“Laila has been outstanding on the mound,” Mike Makarewicz said. “… When a pitcher is playing a 1-1 game, the defense has to step it up for that pitcher. The game should have been 1-1 and went into extra innings.”
He noted that errors are bad no matter what, but that Ripon’s one bad inning only cost it three runs. And while three is too many, in the past it would have one or two bad innings with five or six runs scoring.
Mike Makarewicz also believes that once the hitting comes, the defense also will improve.
Ripon has troubles hitting spots in loss to KML
The Tigers found out what happens when pitchers struggle to hit their spots last week Tuesday as they gave up 17 hits, which included a costly grand slam, in a 10-3 home loss to the Kettle Moraine Lutheran (KML) Chargers.
“The biggest key in that game is Laila [Simonis] or Emily [Kasuboski], whoever is going to step up on the mound that night, they now realize how crucial it is to hit your spots as a pitcher,” Mike Makarewicz said of what went wrong. “If you’re not hitting your spots, any of these teams in this conference are going to hit the ball all over the field.”
The hits for KML started right away in the first inning as it recorded four-straight singles of Simonis with two outs to take a 1-0 lead. It then added two more runs on four singles in the second and two runs on four singles in the third to extend the advantage to 5-1. Ripon’s run came on an Mills RBI double in the bottom of the second inning.
After relieving Simonis in the third inning and allowing two inherited runners to score, Kasuboski kept the Chargers off the scoreboard in the fourth and fifth innings, allowing Ripon to fight back to within 5-3 after five innings.
The junior, however, left a pitch in the middle of the plate in the sixth inning and the Chargers didn’t squander the opportunity as they blasted a grand slam as part of a five-run sixth inning that put the game out of reach. All five runs in the inning were unearned as a result of an error that was committed by Ripon.
Avary Makarawicz led the Tigers with two hits and two runs scored, while Cassidy Mader, Erika Mills, Avery Downs and Eva Baker added a hit a piece. Mills drove in a team-high two RBIs.
Ripon will face another tough team Tuesday, when it hosts the Waupun Warriors at 4:45 p.m. at Murray Park.
The Warriors are 3-1 in conference and 5-1 overall, with their lone loss coming at the hands of Winneconne.
The Tigers will follow up that game with a doubleheader at Plymouth Thursday, a road game against Wautoma Saturday and a home twin bill with the Kewaskum Indians Tuesday.
The doubleheaders will start at 4 p.m., while first pitch for Saturday’s game is set for 11 a.m.