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West Bend Lightning win | By Quinn Mathe

August 13, 2021 – West Bend, WI – At the beginning of the month, my softball season with the U12 West Bend Lightning came to an end.

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But not before we took third place in the Wisconsin Class C State Tournament. The state placement capped off a truly stellar season, one I, and likely my teammates, will not soon forget.

On the U12 West Bend Lightning team, we were 11 players strong:

#1 Elli Calliari
#2 Quinn Mathe
#3 Lydia Hoier
#4 Amelia Riley
#5 Violet Zier
#8 Ali Hooper
#12 Kyla Kuzminski
#13 Emma Lovy
#14 Morgan Winkler
#29 Layla Schultz
#31 Milli Kreif

We had an amazing year with many wins; our record was 48-12. Our pitchers threw hard and had a combined 417 strikeouts all season. Ali, Elli, Lydia, Milli, Emma, and I were our pitchers. Thanks to their efforts – and great defense by the fielders – our opponents only scored 215 runs.

Prior to starting the state tournament, our team competed in the Wisconsin Fastpitch League tournament.

We had been playing weekly doubleheaders that began in June. We entered the tournament as the team with the best record in our division.

Our playoffs started July 19 and went through July 22. We played Dash Softball (won 10-0), Germantown Warhawks (won 15-3), Greenfield Ignitors Orange (won 5-2), Hartland Lady Hawks Red (won 9-2), and Kenosha Red Devils (won 9-7). We played five games in four days to take the championship.

After our league championship win, we headed up to Merrill for another tournament. We began playing on Friday, July 23 when we beat Northwest Lightning – we joked that Lightning would win the game! – 14-2. We played Medford Fastpitch and won 7-2 on Saturday. Sunday, we played three games and beat MotownMayhem (13-4), Merrill Fastpitch (3-1), and Kewaskum Tribe (4-2) to win the tournament.

In addition to our weekly league games, our team played in eight tournaments. For the year, we had three third-place finishes, one-second place and we were tournament champions 4 times. Our team placed in every tournament we participated in.

Horicon Bank

We had a LOT of softball games leading up to the state tournament. We joked about having 10 games in eight days and winning two championships. I was a little tired after all those games, so it was nice to have a break before we started playing for State.

The Wisconsin Class C State Tournament is part of USA Softball, so we had a lot of different rules to follow. Our coach, Kelly Hooper, had to take our bats to be inspected by the officials. They made sure all the bats were safe and did compression tests. The umpires inspected all the bats, helmets, and catchers equipment before each game. They wanted to make sure we stayed safe!

Our state journey was a double-elimination tournament, so you had to lose two times to be out of the tournament. We began our journey on July 29 and we had two games. First, we played the Kenosha Red Devils (who we beat for the league championship) and won 8-5. Then we played VFC Wildcats from Verona and won 12-3.

The next day we played Richfield Rebels and won 13-1. That was our only game that day, so we all got a good night of sleep. The next day we played Muskego Storm and lost 3-6. It was a tough loss, but we played hard and tried to rally before we ran out of time. Because we lost, we had another game that day. We played Kenosha Hawks Purple and won 6-3.

Then on Sunday, August 1 we played VFC Wildcats again and won 8-1. This win put us in the semi-final. Because we had already lost a game, we had to win the next game in order to go to the championship.

The sun was shining and there was a little breeze in the air – a perfect day for softball. In the early afternoon on Sunday, we took the field against the Red Devils. The odds were not in our favor as we lost 11-8. It wasn’t our best game, but we fought hard to try and come from behind for a victory.

However, that was the game that got us 3rd place. Coach Kelly talked to us about how far we made it and how hard we worked to get to where we are today. This was our first attempt in the state tournament, and we took third place. It was a great way to show other teams what kind of players we have on West Bend Lightning.

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The state tournament was our last game together as a team. We were all crying because it was so sad that it was our last game, and most of the girls are moving up to U14 for next season. But, as we usually, do, we found a way to make things better and we all started laughing.

I know that all the girls and coaches were very proud for getting this far in State, and for our season overall. Our team is very close with each other. We are like sisters. We have had so many team bonding experiences through the season. We played fun games – in addition to softball – do each other’s hair, laugh, and talk.

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