Lady Demons use long ball to beat mighty Wilmot

The Burlington softball team is one win away from winning the outright Southern Lakes Conference title. (Submitted/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk

Burlington head coach Gary Caliva couldn’t even recall the last time the softball team won a conference championship in the post-game interview Tuesday night in Wilmot.

It’s been that long.

You have to go all the way back to 1989 – almost 30 years – to find the last Lady Demon softball team to win a conference championship.

In that decade, Burlington won a state title in 1984 and made it to three state tournaments.

After the Demons’ masterful performance on the road Tuesday, it feels like the good, old days again.

Two of the first three Burlington batters hit home runs, Josie Klein fired a gem and the defense backed her up in a 5-1 victory against Wilmot, the state’s fifth-ranked team.

The Demons improved to 13-5 overall and 11-1 in the Southern Lakes Conference, a full two losses ahead of the Panthers.

With two SLC games to play, Burlington clinched at least a share of its first SLC championship since the George Bush administration.

With a sweep of conference power Westosha Central and a split with Wilmot this season, the Lady Demons have established themselves as the dominant force in one of the state’s best conferences.

“It was a great win for us,” Caliva said. “We’ve been putting it together for awhile now. It was good pitching, good defense and timely hitting.”

“It’s always nice to get a couple home runs in the first inning.”

Senior second baseman Jaina Westphal led off the game with a home run over the fence, and two batters later, pitcher Josie Klein went deep to give Burlington an early 2-0 advantage.

Wilmot cut it to 2-1 in the fourth, but Burlington answered with a single tally in the fifth and two runs in the seventh.

Bridi Allen and Maddie Berezowitz each had RBI hits.

Berezowitz went 3-for-4, and Klein and Allen each added two hits. Allen finished with two RBIs.

“Our team meshes so well together, so I knew we could pull out this win,” Westphal said. “We won because our team is just awesome. We love each other, and we have so much fun in the dugout. We support each other, and everyone contributed.”

Westphal says the team’s experience is key, with eight seniors. She said the Demons bring a lot of energy to each game.

“We all know what happens, and we teach our younger girls how to do it,” she added. “Our energy has been amazing, and that really helps us out.”

Westphal isn’t satisfied with the shared conference title. She hopes the girls can finish the job and win the SLC outright.

Klein had two strikeouts and allowed the Wilmot batters to put the ball in play, trusting her defense.

She only gave up three hits in an efficient performance.

“She pitched one heck of a game, and when she pitches like that, we’re hard to beat,” Caliva said. “She was hitting her spots, confident and relaxed.”

In the first meeting between these two clubs, a 10-6 Wilmot victory in Burlington, Klein allowed seven runs in the first two innings.

Caliva said Tuesday was a special moment.

“It’s special for these kids,” he said. “They’ve worked hard this year, and they deserve this.”