Despite a spectacular pitching performance by Viroqua junior standout Natalie Waldenberger, the No. 6 seeded Viroqua Blackhawks softball team saw their season end in the first round of the WIAA Division 3 playoffs, Wednesday, May 24, in a 1-0 loss at No. 3 seed Dodgeville.
In a classic fast-pitch, pitchers’ duel, the teams combined for just three hits in the game and the Blackhawks had two, but could not come up with the timely run scoring hit.
Crystal Noble cracked a two-out double to left in the second inning and Kaitlyn Holtz reached base on a single in the top of the seventh, but that was the extent of the Hawks’ offense.
Waldenberger, meanwhile, was literally un-hittable, tossing a no-hitter over the first six innings.
The Dodgers went to small-ball in the bottom of the seventh inning to manufacture the winning run.
The home team opened the inning with a bunt single. Viroqua catcher Madesyn Zitzner made a valiant effort to catch the pop-up bunt but came up just short on a diving attempt.
The Dodgeville runner then advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a sacrifice bunt. The next batter hit a slow roller to third that was fielded cleanly by VHS third baseman Valerie Buroker, but the runner, breaking on contact, slid under the tag of Zitzner, scoring the winning run.
“Our defense played well (one error), and Natalie pitched a great game,” said VHS coach John Lendosky. “Dodgeville never hit the ball out of the infield the entire game, but we struggled at the plate to get a rally going.”
Viroqua finished the season at 10-10, with many games lost from the schedule due to rainouts.
The playoff loss to Dodgeville was the fifth of the season in which Waldenberger held the opponent to two hits or less. The Coulee Conference first team selection from last season finished the year with eight wins, including 99 strikeouts in 109 innings, with a sparkling 2.18 ERA.
Opposing hitters had a combined batting average of .200 against the hard throwing right-hander. Waldenberger was also the team’s leading hitter with a .451 batting average, including a team high seven home runs.
The Blackhawks combined to hit 17 home runs, including three each by Holtz and Noble, two by Zitzner and one each by Amber Bakkestuen and Buroker. Zitzner was the second leading hitter with a .389 average, followed by Holtz (.370), Bakkestuen (.353) and Noble (.315). As a team, the Blackhawks outscored their opponents by a 111-90 margin.