New Berlin Eisenhower couldn't share the Woodland West Division title with crosstown rival New Berlin West, but a win over the Vikings on May 19 would give them a split of the season series.
It took the Lions until the bottom of the seventh inning, when they rallied to score two runs to nip West, 4-3, to finish the regular season with a 12-4 record in league play. West won the title with a 13-3 record, also winning the title in 2011 and 2012. They also went to state in 2013.
'We went through a little rebuilding but are set up strong for the next few years,' West coach Greg Klotz said. 'Before that, it was 1986 when we went 25 years without a title.'
The win was huge for the Lions.
'The girls were looking forward to playing them (West) again,' Eisenhower coach Jeff Setz said. 'The win should give them a boost in confidence if we meet in the postseason.'
The Vikings jumped out to a 2-0 lead with single runs in the first and third innings before Eisenhower scored a run in the bottom of the third to cut the lead to 2-1.
West made it 3-1 with another score in the fifth inning before the Lions put a run on the board in the bottom of the sixth. Then Eisenhower rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh for the win.
In the winning rally, Meagan Loewus walked (for the third time), and Ali Nowak hit a ball to second base. The fielder looked to get Loewus at second, hesitated and Nowak was safe at first. Erica Buechel then dropped a soft single into left to load the bases.
Riley Rossbach hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Loewus. The return throw home was off the mark, and Nowak scored the winning run.
'I feel that inning may have been the worst sequence of events in an inning we have had this year,' said West coach Greg Koltz, who was playing without four regulars. 'A mental error, a communication error and physical error. Ike didn't hit one ball hard, and we put two of the three runners on for them. That's the way it goes sometimes.
'It is a bitter loss, and we may have given Ike some momentum going into the regional playoffs, but we respond to these things and turn them around quickly.'
Cheyenne Sowinski pitched six innings, allowing six hits, three walks and four strikeouts and got the loss. The Lions got solid performances from Anna Lang, who pitched four innings and struck two, and McKenna Hietpas got the win in relief, pitching three innings, allowing two walks and striking out three. They combined to hold the Vikings to seven hits.
Sowinski had a single, double and a homer, and Charlotte Ropas singled twice. Erica Buechel singled twice and drove in a run, and Andrea Leder singled twice.
'Since I've been at West (2011), this game is for city bragging rights,' Klotz said. 'When we beat them early in the season, we expected to do well, and it wasn't that big of a deal as it was early on and we controlled the entire game. This time, even though the game didn't matter in the standing and the seeding meetings for regionals were already completed, we were not able to handle the pressure. There is a good chance we will see them in the playoffs.'
These teams will meet in the playoffs on May 27 if they win their first-round games.