Assumption softball back on top
By Mike Warren
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – After a series of state semifinals losses in recent years, the Assumption Royals of Wisconsin Rapids are once again on top of the softball world.
The Royals defeated Barneveld 3-1 in the Division 5 state softball final, played June 11 at Goodman Diamond in Madison. The win capped off an eight-game win streak for the Royals, who finished the season 21-2.
After winning their first 13 games of the season, the Royals stumbled in mid-May, oddly enough losing two games at the Assumption tournament in Wisconsin Rapids.
In the championship game, the Royals struck first, scoring two runs in the bottom half of the first inning. Pitcher Ava Schill drilled a two-out home run over the right field fence for a 1-0 lead. Shortstop Claire Nelson then singled through the right side, and advanced to second on a wild pitch to Centerfielder Lydia Smits, who then struck out swinging, but reached first on another wild pitch, and went to second on a throwing error, as Nelson scored. Macy Vollert struck out to end the inning.
The pitchers took over the game after that, allowing just one combined hit into the fifth. That’s when Assumption added to their lead, again with two outs. Catcher Cristin Casey singled to center field, then stole second. Schill then delivered an RBI base hit to right field, scoring Casey.
Schill allowed her only run of the game on a two-out RBI single in the Barneveld seventh inning, but closed the door after that to seal the Assumption win.
Schill recorded the complete-game win, giving up one earned run on three hits while striking out six and walking none. She also went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs batted in.
Two days earlier, the Royals knocked off Thorp 5-2 in a Division 5 state semifinal contest. Assumption struck first, scoring twice in the first inning when Smits and Vollert each delivered two-out RBI singles. The Royals scored again in the third, when Nelson doubled to right to lead off the inning, then scored two batters later when Vollert smacked another RBI base hit.
The Cardinals fought back with two runs in the top of the fourth inning, but Assumption answered with two more runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Schill picked up the complete-game win, giving up two runs on four hits while also setting a new Division 5 state tournament record by striking out 15 Thorp batters. She also tied a Division 5 state record by pitching 14 innings in one tournament.
On their way to another state championship, the top-seeded Royals beat No. 8 Royall and No. 5 Ithaca in the regionals by a combined 30-0. In the sectional semifinals, Assumption got by Almond-Bancroft 4-1, then won the sectional by beating Blair-Taylor 4-0.
In their five previous state tournament appearances, the Royals won the Division 3 title in 2001 and the Division 4 crown in 2005, before bowing out in the semifinals in 2006, 2014, and 2018.