Challenges keep coming for the Menomonee Falls girls softball team, and the youthful Indians keep surmounting them.
And because of that powerful and heartening trend, the Indians found themselves in control of defending their Greater Metro Conference title.
The Indians are 9-1 in GMC play, ahead of both Brookfield Central (7-1) and DSHA (8-2), and 15-3 overall.
They routed Brookfield East (11-0) on May 3, got vengeance on a short-handed DSHA squad (9-1) on May 4, buried Tosa East (10-0) on May 5 n a series of GMC tilts and then earned major WIAA seeding credentials with a 1-0 nonconference thriller over Greenfield and its all-state pitcher Bella Matthias on May 6.
Coach Lou Sanicola gives a lot of the credit to junior pitcher Ciera Jones. Jones, after absorbing a tough 8-5 loss to DSHA on April 28, went out and won three times last week, including dominating performances against both DSHA and Greenfield.
'The Greenfield win was huge,' he said. 'As I told the kids, it doesn't matter that we're only up one run because we still have a very good chance to win because Ciera is pitching so well.
'I've just kept challenging her this spring. That if she wants to be considered as one of the top pitchers in the state, she has got to beat some of those pitchers. That when she has them down two strikes, she has to close the deal.
'She just pitched very, very well this week.'
Falls controls its own destiny in the GMC. The Indians have four games this week, including three GMC contests. They include testy tilts at home against border rival Sussex Hamilton on Thursday, May 12, and West Allis Hale on Friday, May 13, both at 4:15 p.m.
If they take care of those contests, the outright title will likely come down to a visit to Brookfield Central at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17.
'We're going to be facing teams with a lot of motivation,' Sanicola said. 'So we will have to be ready.'
The Indians were motivated against Greenfield. Matthias, the returning Now All-Suburban Player of the Year, limited the Indians to two hits with nine strikeouts and no walks.
But in the first inning, Falls was able to pair both those hits and a key error on a wind-blown pop-up to score the only run. Ashley Zdroik had a 'great seven-pitch at bat' against Matthias before getting a hit and an out later. Falls All-Suburban outfielder Stephanie Cole got a hit of her own.
That set up Abbey Frambs, and she hit the critical two-out pop-up that the Hustlin' Hawks' shortstop could not quite gather in with the runners going for the only run of the game.
That was enough for Jones, who scattered six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.
'She kept the ball low and wasn't missing high in the zone like she has in the past,' Sanicola said.
The win was technically part of the Union Grove Tournament, which had been postponed earlier in the season. The Indians are looking for a date with Union Grove to complete the tourney.
Other efforts for the Indians include the following.
Falls 10, Tosa East 0:Cami Stigler toss a five-inning three-hit shutout with three walks and eight strikeouts for the Indians as lead-off hitter Lou Sciortino got on three times and scored three runs. Cole knocked in two runs, and Morgan Schiedemeyer had two hits.
Falls 9, DSHA 1: The Indians got revenge on the short-handed Dashers, as DSHA was without their all-state level ace Rose Dentice, who was out with a shoulder problem. Falls went ahead 2-0 in the first and broke open a 3-1 game with two runs in the sixth and four in the seventh.
The Dashers' back-up pitcher, Jackie Dooge, had trouble finding the plate with 12 strikeouts as Falls only had three hits. Kenzie Poetzel knocked in two runs as Jones scattered eight hits with six strikeouts and four walks. Falls played errorless ball behind Jones.
Falls 11, Brookfield East 0: The Indians were up 9-0 after two innings and never looked back. Jones scattered six hits with 10 strikeouts and no walks as Cole, Allie Paulson and Schiedemeyer all knocked in two runs each.
Sanicola remains impressed at how far this team has come.
'Our sophomores are growing up, our juniors are contributing and the seniors are doing a great job leading,' he said. 'Everyone is contributing.'