The Menomonee Falls softball team has proven it's a state-level program time and again in the past, but it's always good to get a mid-season look-see at the competition to get an idea of where you stand in any given campaign.
The defending Greater Metro Conference champs took part in the Kenosha Tournament on April 22 , featuring the powerful likes of the host school and Westosha Central.
Falls dropped a tough 6-5 decision to Central, beat Zion/Benton (Ill.), 4-0, and then fell to a strong Greenfield team, 8-4, in the finale.
The 1-2 record on the week completed a 3-3 week for the Indians as they stayed unbeaten in GMC games with a 16-0 rout of Brookfield East on April 18 and then hammered Hartford, 16-1, on April 19 in a nonconference contest.
"It was three games against really good competition," said Indians coach Lou Sanicola. "We got to see who can handle the pressure and perform against high-level competition."
Falls, which started the week at 6-3 overall and 2-0 in GMC, is slated for three league games this week, including at Brookfield Central on Thursday, April 27, and at DSHA on Friday, April 28. Another challenge will be the three-game Pulaski Tournament on Saturday, April 29.
Sanicola said the season, now that all schools are done with their spring breaks, is essentially a six-week sprint to the finish line. He's hoping for better weather and a little more consistency out of his team.
"We have something like 19 games in three-and-a-half weeks," he said, "but almost everyone is like that. It'll be a hectic finish for everyone. Our hitting is doing well and once we get into a rhythm of game after game, the pitching will be fine, but our fielding needs to be tightened up."
Falls had three errors in the final game of the tournament, as Greenfield hit the Indians with four runs in the first to take firm control of the contest.
Kenzie Poetzel started and took the loss as Ciera Jones mopped up with four strikeouts and no walks in five-plus innings of relief. Jones and Abby Frambs had two hits each and Megan Jackson knocked in two runs.
"Greenfield hit the ball better than we thought they would," said Sanicola, "and we were getting a little tired at that point, but the kids kept trying."
Against Zion/Benton, Cami Stigler toed the rubber and scattered three hits with seven strikeouts and just two walks in hurling the shutout. A four-run fifth did the trick for Falls as Frambs again had two hits.
"Cami threw more balls than she usually does, but she still found ways to get outs today," said Sanicola.
Sanicola said the first game loss to Westosha was "a great game" as Falls scored once in the top of the seventh to take a 5-4 lead only to have the Falcons score twice in the bottom of the frame to pull out the victory.
"Our top of the order came through (in the seventh) but then so did theirs in the bottom of the seventh," said Sanicola.
Jones took the loss, allowing only three earned runs with six strikeouts and a walk.
Lead-off hitter Lou Sciortino had two hits and scored two runs while Stigler, Gabby Feltman and Allie Paulson all knocked in runs.
Against Hartford, a seven-run third did the trick for the Indians as they pounded out 12 hits. Sciortino had three hits and three runs scored while Jordan Pettiford had two hits and two runs scored. Stigler and Cody Nelson scored twice each while Paulson (two runs scored) and Olivia Schersing knocked in two runs each.
Jones got the win in the five-inning game as she and Stigler had four strikeouts each.
Against East, the Indians scored six times in the first and then coasted home on the strength of 14 hits. Stigler had a huge game with three hits, three runs scored and four RBIs as eight people had RBIs for Falls. Sciortino added two hits as did Emma Neale, while Miranda Fluegge scored three runs and Brianna Rosenow two.
Sanicola said both the Hartford and East games were good chances to see bench players show what they could do.