Klein allows three runs to Central all year, SLC team makes state 9th straight year

Maddie Berezowitz (left) and Jaina Westphal douse Burlington head coach Gary Caliva with the celebratory “Gatorade shower” minutes after the Demons won Thursday night in Wilmot. (Earlene Frederick/SLN)


By Jason Arndt


Before the season, if someone would have told Burlington High School senior Jaina Westphal her team would be competing for a shot at a state softball berth, the Demon second baseman would not believe it.

Westphal started to believe after Burlington bucked historical trends by finally beating Westosha Central and capturing its first outright conference championship since 1989.

Burlington, which swept the Falcons in the regular season play for the first time since re-entering the SLC 10 years ago, continued the trend when it mattered most, downing Westosha Central 6-4 at Wilmot in Thursday’s WIAA Division 1 sectional final to earn a trip to the state tournament next week.

“At the beginning of the season, I never knew this was going to happen,” said Westphal, who started feeling positive vibes after her team won the SLC title. “I felt we were going to go somewhere.”

The trip to state snapped a 30-year drought for Burlington (22-5).

The state berth marks the ninth straight year a Southern Lakes Conference team has been represented.

Demons coach Gary Caliva said he has not absorbed the historical win.

“I will be able to tell you tomorrow, it really hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said.

For the Falcons, however, they were denied a state tournament bid for the third straight season after winning the Division 1 championship in 2015.


Falcons fight in final ups

The loss comes in spite of a Falcons push in the seventh inning, where they pulled the contest within two at 6-4, courtesy of a Becca Edwards run-scoring single to plate sophomore Carlie Odejewski.

“I think we put our heart and soul into almost every inning we played (Thursday), it is just that sometimes we came up a little short,” said Falcons co-coach Tom Lampe. “My hat’s off to Burlington.”

Burlington starter Josie Klein, who stayed composed, then forced a fly out and groundout to give the Demons the victory.

“Central is a really, really good team, we enjoy playing them all the time,” Caliva said. “Finally, we got around to beating them, instead of them beating us.”

Klein, meanwhile, allowed three earned runs on eight hits through seven innings.

Klein held Westosha Central to a collective three earned runs in three meetings this season.

“She hits her spots, she is not overly powerful, but she has got a nice drop curve and keeps you guessing,” he said.


Westphal sparks offense

Falcons junior Olivia Kazumura, who shut out Wilmot in Tuesday’s sectional semifinal, allowed a leadoff home run to Westphal.

After Westphal, senior Maddie Berezowitz advanced on a bunt single, which sent Klein to the plate.

Klein, like Westphal, hit a big fly over the fence to score Berezowitz and give the Demons a 3-0 lead entering the second inning.

It was the second time Burlington played at Wilmot’s sports complex this season, and in the first game, a 5-1 conference-clinching victory over the Panthers, Westphal and Klein started the game the exact same way as they did Thursday.

“It was the most incredible feeling that anyone can ever feel, it was like ‘Wow!” Westphal said. “We are all coming together, we are all meshing.”

Klein went 2-for-2 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored. Berezowitz finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

The Falcons, meanwhile, tied the contest at three apiece in the top of the third inning.


The Burlington Demons hoist the sectional title plaque Thursday. (Earlene Frederick/SLN)

Central offers counter punch

Klein held Westosha Central without a hit until the top of the third inning when junior outfielder Haley Hovland singled to open the frame.

Hovland, replaced by a courtesy runner, eventually scored along with senior Kayla Kerkman on a two-run single by Odejewski to pull the contest within one run at 3-2.

Edwards then deadlocked the contest with a single to score Odejewski.

Edwards, who played with a sore ankle, batted 2-for-4 with two RBIs as the team’s designated player.

The Demons reclaimed the lead the next inning when senior Bridi Allen hit a sacrifice fly to plate Berezowitz, who singled.

“They got that lead, they were cruising, we came back to tie the game and they didn’t bat an eye,” Lampe said.

Two innings later, Burlington extended its lead to 6-3, courtesy of an Ashley Schmalfeldt two-run double to score Klein and Allen.

Westosha Central, in the top of the sixth inning, loaded the bases with two outs, but Klein, again, forced a groundout to end the threat.


Last gasp

The Falcons, faced with their last three outs, opened with a single by Kerkman.

Odejewski then laced a single to left field, but during the play, Kerkman was thrown out by junior left fielder Alexandria Naber while trying to advance to third base.

It took a perfect throw to get the speedy Kerkman, which Naber provided and Schmalfeldt complemented at third base with a swift tag.

With one out, Edwards singled in Odejewski to cut the deficit to 6-4, but Klein got senior Andrea Edquist to fly out to right-fielder Berezowitz, who shielded off the bright sun with a circus catch at her feet, and Kazumura to ground out.

Meanwhile, for Kerkman, Lampe said it was difficult to see her get thrown at third base.

“We have been aggressive all year and that is what we tell our girls,” he said. “Obviously, would I like that play back? Sure, but it happens.”

“(Kayla) was the heart and soul of what we did this year and she really grew as a player,” Lampe added.

As for Kazumura, she took the loss, allowing six earned runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out four.

With the Demon win, they outscored Westosha Central 24-4 in three meetings, a testament to their defense.

“The reason they didn’t score much against us this year, is that I have such a great defense behind me and I can trust them,” Klein said.

Westosha Central finished its season 20-9.

Odejewski went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.