The Brookfield Central softball team took down Sussex Hamilton in the regular season finale on May 23, 4-1, but the Chargers still had plenty to celebrate.
Prior to the game, Hamilton hosted a dedication ceremony for the Halquist Youth Complex. The 14-acre complex for softball and soccer, the latest addition in a series of impressive facility updates for Hamilton, became a reality thanks to a $200,000 donation commitment from Halquist Stone in 2013.
Halquist Stone co-owners Bill and Tom Halquist were on hand for the ceremony, and each was presented with a keepsake softball.
Tom Halquist tossed a strike for the ceremonial first pitch.
'Halquist Stone has always been very involved in the community,' he said. 'There's been a need for more ball fields in the community for quite some time. The school and the construction people did a great job making it all come together.'
'To have any kind of long-term success, you need to have the support and investment of the community,' Hamilton head coach Tom Schlueter said.
When play started, however, Brookfield Central's Crystal Sicard kept Hamilton quiet. The senior pitcher surrendered just one hit over seven innings to push the Lancers to 12-5 overall and 11-3 in the Greater Metro Conference, good for a third-place finish.
'The defense helped me out a lot,' Sicard said. 'It helps when I can just focus on what I'm doing and you know your teammates are going to help you out.'
Sicard's counterpart, Hamilton senior Karly Vigani, was nearly as effective through three scoreless innings. In the top of the fourth, Central's Kailee Johnson reached on a single, then an errant pitch from Vigani struck Sicard's batting helmet. Alexa Rayborn walked, followed by Audrey Ketnz reaching on an error and scoring Johnson.
Chargers third baseman Kayla Sullivan prevented more damage when she caught a line drive and tagged the runner at third for a double play. HHS escaped the bases-loaded, no out situation with just a 1-0 deficit.
But Hamilton's bats were quiet in the bottom frame, and Vigani experienced déjà vu in the fifth.
Central's Sydney Cain, Katie Dobrzynski and Johnson led off the inning with consecutive singles to load the bases. Vigani then struck Sicard's helmet again to plate Central a 2-0 lead.
This time, Rayborn connected on a double deep to left that scored Johnson and Dobrzynski to give Central some breathing room at 4-0.
Hamilton made things interesting in the bottom of the sixth when Taylor Earing connected on a double and later scored when Madison Earing reached base on a ball thrown over the first baseman's head. Morgan Dercola was hit with a pitch, putting the tying run at the plate, but Sicard regained her composure and ended the inning with one of her 15 strikeouts.
Sicard, headed for the University of Indianapolis, has enjoyed quite a run for the Lancers. She's been their ace since her freshman year when she was a first-team All-Conference selection and led each of Central's 12 wins, compiling a 0.79 earned-run average over 107 innings. Additionally, Sicard is tied for the team-high in runs batted in (18) with Rayborn.
If Central hopes to put together a postseason run, it's obvious Sicard will be a focal point.
'We're just focused now and getting better and playing as well as we know we can,' she said. 'The seniors want to go out that way.'
Hamilton (9-14, 7-7) will host Waukesha North on Wednesday in the WIAA regional opener.
Halquist also gave $100,000 of materials that included rocks and gravel to the project, which has a total price tag of $737,136.69.