Klein, Westphal named All-Area co-players of the year

The Burlington softball team proudly displays its state runner-up trophy to fans back in June in Madison. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

It was the year of the female in area high school sports.

In 2018 alone, three high school volleyball teams won state, a girls basketball team advanced to state and two girls soccer teams advanced to sectionals.

But no run was perhaps more improbable and simultaneously entertaining than Burlington Lady Demons softball.

Stacked up against the best softball conference in the state of Wisconsin year in and year out, the Lady Demons hadn’t been to Madison since the 1980s, mired in the middle of the pack most years thanks to juggernauts Westosha Central, Wilmot and sometimes Union Grove and Delavan-Darien.

Burlington finally broke through in 2018, capturing the SLC crown with a clean sweep of the powerful Kenosha County teams along with a crazy comeback in the playoffs.

Back in May, the Lady Elks held a 6-1 lead entering the seventh inning before the Demons rallied to tie the game in their last at-bat, ignited by a super clutch three-run blast by Ashley Schmalfeldt.

This sparked a monumental sectional final victory on Wilmot’s diamond against Central before more magic in Madison.

Schmalfeldt opened the three-day journey with a three-run homer in the first inning of a run-rule victory in a WIAA Division 1 quarterfinal, and the fun began.

Playing at Edgewood College in a game that lasted until midnight the next night, Burlington staved off a pesky Slinger squad, 12-7, to advance to its first state championship game since the late 1980s.

The 1984 state champion Demons saw history repeat itself three decades later, only to bow out in the state final to a Sun Prairie that featured a University of Wisconsin recruit pitcher whose rise ball was simply too much.

Stars like Schmalfeldt, Josie Klein, Jaina Westphal, Maddie Berezowitz, Gracie Peterson, Bridi Allen, Jenna Schmalfeldt and more all contributed to the unprecedented success.

With Ashley’s little sister set to take over pitching duties in 2019, and Berezowitz, Allen, Emily Zuleger, Peterson and Alex Naber back on the field, don’t be surprised if the Lady Demons return to Madison.

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