By Paul Lecker
AUBURNDALE – For the first time, Auburndale is champions of the Marawood Conference South Division in softball.
The Apaches came back from an early three-run deficit to beat Stratford 5-3 on Tuesday at Auburndale High School. With the victory, Auburndale shares the Marawood South championship with Wisconsin Rapids Assumption and Marathon as all three teams finished 8-2 in conference play.
Auburndale finishes the regular season with a 12-4 overall record after winning nine of its last 10 games. View the Marawood South softball standings.
“Absolutely,” Auburndale coach Anne Teske said when asked if she thought, prior to the season, if this year’s squad was capable of winning a conference title. “This has been four years in the making. They kept growing, we kept adding pieces, and they worked well together.”
Stratford took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when leadoff hitter Mariah Zawislan reached on an infield single, stole second, went to third on a groundout, and scored on a single by Paige Kolbeck.
The Tigers (6-11, 4-6 Marawood South) pushed their lead to 3-0 as they took advantage of two Auburndale errors. Brooke Grell had an RBI single in the inning.
Auburndale pitcher Maggie Willfahrt settled in after that, allowing four hits and two walks over the final five innings. She finished with one strikeout and three walks in the complete-game victory.
Auburndale’s offense came alive in the second inning. Natalie Aue and Maggie Willfahrt both walked, and Carly Willfahrt delivered a one-out single to left-center to score two and get the Apaches to within a run.
Georgi Schmutzer led off the fifth inning with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Mackenzie Raab. Raab promptly stole second and scored on another hit by Teryn Lau, putting the Apaches up 4-3.
The Apaches added an insurance run in the sixth as Lau delivered again, knocking in pinch runner Taylor Stanton.
Lau finished 3-for-4, and Raab and Carly Willfahrt each had two hits for the Apaches. Mazie Nagel was 2-for-4 for Stratford as both teams finished with eight hits.
“We have a balanced lineup and they do a good job of picking each other up,” Teske said.
Auburndale will finish its regular season on Thursday at Nekoosa before opening play in the WIAA playoffs. The Apaches will host Markesan in a Division 4 regional semifinal next Tuesday, May 21.
“It’s going to be tough, but we like it that way,” Teske said.
Stratford will open play in the playoffs with a Division 3 regional quarterfinal at Osseo-Fairchild on Thursday.
Apaches 5, Tigers 3
Stratford 120 000 0 – 3 8 1
Auburndale 020 021 x – 5 8 3
WP: Maggie Willfahrt. LP: Maria Schoenfuss.
SO: Schoenfuss 1; M. Willfahrt 1. BB: Schoenfuss 4; M. Willfahrt 3.
Top hitters: S, Mazie Nagel 2×4, Paige Kolbeck 1×3, RBI; Brooke Grell 1×2, RBI. A, Mackenzie Raab 2×2, RBI; Teryn Lau 3×4, 2 RBIs; Carly Willfahrt 2×3; Taylor Stanton 2 runs.
Records: Stratford 6-11, 4-6 Marawood Conference South Division; Auburndale 12-4, 8-2 Marawood South.