Demons find themselves in rare air

Calla Esch has been coming through in the clutch in the past two weeks. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk

WATERFORD – The parents in the crowd Thursday at Waterford Union High School didn’t look like people should look when their team is losing 9-1.

Instead, the Waterford softball fans, braving a brisk, 50-degree night and sitting on aluminum bleachers, were surprisingly jovial and satisfied.

Yes, it was the second game of a doubleheader, one in which Wilmot crunched the home team, 9-1.

But only one hour earlier, the Wolverines played their best game of the season, against the area’s best team, and changed the landscape in the Southern Lakes Conference.

Behind a stellar nine-inning outing from Ashley Baker, and clutch RBI singles from Jemma Fiehweg and Calla Esch, Waterford knocked off conference-leading Wilmot, 3-2, in game one, and further solidified the notion that the SLC is the state’s best softball conference.

Waterford improved to 8-9 and 4-8 in the SLC under first-year head coach Ryan Krueger, who said after the doubleheader that his young squad is better than its record indicates.

Wilmot fell to 11-2 in conference, and thanks to Burlington’s doubleheader sweep of Lake Geneva Badger Thursday, the Demons now sit alone, at least in the loss column, atop the standings at 10-1.

Thursday’s results set up a potential SLC championship game, when Burlington travels to Wilmot.

The Demons fell behind early and couldn’t catch up in a 10-6 loss to Wilmot at Burlington a few weeks ago, but if Burlington can pull off the upset, it will clinch at least a share of its first conference title in decades.

Back to Waterford.

Facing Wilmot ace Madison Zerr, the Lady Wolverines fell behind, 2-1, in game one, but Mackenzie Stiewe brought back the troops with an RBI double to tie it in the sixth.

Zerr and Baker cruised to the top of the ninth, where Waterford rallied. Olivia Cammers scored the winning run on Fiehwig’s hit, and Fiehweg crossed home plate on a single by Esch, who had a walk-off winner last week.

Baker shut down the Panthers in the bottom of the inning to seal the deal.