Kate Christian snags an over-the-shoulder catch to help prevent a run
For the fifth consecutive year, New London softball concluded their season at the state tournament in Madison, but after a 3-0 loss to Tuner in the state semi-final, their season ends after one game at Goodman Diamond for the third year in a row.
The Bulldog lineup produced only one hit against Tuner pitcher Kailyn Packard, who finished the game with 10 strikeouts and kept New London hitters guessing all game.
In the first inning, New London was able to put their first two batters on base, while advancing them into scoring position, but still came up empty.
Turner responded in the home half with a three-run first inning, which would be all the Trojans would need for the win.
“It was a good start,” said New London coach Tony Porath. ”If we could have gotten that hit, maybe it would have changed momentum. They got their hits in that bottom of the first and after that it was close all the way through.”
After surrendering three runs on four hits in the first inning, New London pitcher Leah Porath settled in, scattering four hits and holding Tuner scoreless over her final five frames. Porath also benefitted from a few stellar defensive plays in the outfield from Kate Christian and Faith Carothers.
“I kept telling them, why do you keep making those routine plays look hard out there,” coach Porath joked to his outfielders. “That’s what they did all year. Our outfield has been fantastic. Our whole team plays good defense. Those catches out there, they kept us in the game. If they don’t make them, then they break it open.”
Though disappointed, New London understands just how difficult it is to make it to state, let alone for a fifth year in a row.
“To get down here, I know a lot of coaches that would love to be here one time,” he said..“We’re very fortunate. We don’t take this for granted. We played hard. Looking around, it’s going to be great memories for us. We’re very lucky.”
For the second year in a row, New London’s senior class has experienced a state appearance in all four years of their softball careers, a remarkable accomplishment not seen often in high school sports.
A state appearance this season was not a given, especially with a young team and a difficult sectional that consisted of teams like Freedom, Shawano, Seymour, Wrighstown and Denmark.
“I knew it would be tough,” coach Porath said about a return to state. “You lose all those seniors from last year, it’s going to be very tough. Just find a way and we’re here. You look at those teams, all of them could’ve been down here playing. We went through, we got hot, things fell our way and we’re fortunate to be here.”
Coach Porath says it’s hard to be disappointed when you end your year playing at Goodman Diamond. He adds that these past few years have been especially meaningful.
“I think probably for me, one of the best things is I get to finish this with my daughter here, and this is cool. My daughter is a senior and I got to do the ride with her and that’s very special for me. To see her sad at the end, I don’t cry a lot, but I think there maybe was some tears.”
Tears may have been shed, but New London’s softball reputation around the state continues to grow, as the school is starting to become recognized as a mainstay in the state tournament.