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By Jason Juno 

Midgettes win tournament, home opener

 

Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Hurley’s Kirkie Pecotte, right, is tagged out during the fourth inning of Thursday’s WIAA Division 3 regional opener against Washburn/Bayfield at the Hurley K-12 School.

HURLEY — Hurley pitcher Brittany Czarnecki allowed one baserunner as the Midgettes started the WIAA Division 3 regional tournament with a 10-0 victory over Washburn/Bayfield Thursday.

No. 2 seed Hurley hosts No. 3 Ladysmith Tuesday in a regional semifinal. Ladysmith survived an upset bid by No. 6 Chetek/Weyerhaeuser 5-4 Thursday.

The playoff game was also Hurley’s home opener and the Midgettes (10-5) played like they’ve been here all season, having no trouble with No. 7 seed Washburn.

Czarnecki gave up a leadoff single to August Gordon on a 1-2 pitch and not a single baserunner after that. She struck out eight. Besides that single, one other batter, Allison Carrier, hit the ball to the outfield.

“No walks is the key to anything,” Hurley manager Jim Kivisto said. “More than that, she was ahead of every batter. That was nice to see. When you’re ahead of a batter, you’re a lot better pitcher. She did a fantastic job.”

Czarnecki kept Washburn from ever threatening.

“We just didn’t have our bats tonight, which is unfortunate because we have had them in the past,” Washburn manager Betsy Carrier said.

The Hurley offense was up to the task, though.

The Midgettes scored five runs on three hits and three walks in the first inning.

Sam Ofstad’s triple brought home Athena Butkiewicz and Gabby Pecotte, both of whom walked to start the game.

Dana Brown singled to bring in Ofstad and Hurley quickly led 3-0.

Courtney Clement’s hard hit to third base wasn’t handled. That brought Brown home.

Clement scored on a groundout by Tianne Kuula for the 5-0 lead.

Hurley didn’t seem to have any tournament nerves with the stellar start.

“One thing Sammy Ofstad does for a senior, she has led these young kids for the whole year. Not only in softball but in basketball, too,” Kivisto said. “She is such a good leader that I think she calms these young kids down. It’s nice to have that. In fact, I told the girls today, I said, ‘If you guys aren’t ready to play today, you’re going to have to go through Sammy before I get to you. You don’t want Sammy mad at you.’”

The lockdown pitching and strong early hitting helped avoid a first game upset. Last year, Phillips upset Hurley in the Midgettes’ first contest of the tournament.

“We brought that up today,” Kivisto said. “We said, ‘We don’t want Sammy and Athena for this to be their last game.’ They came up out and they played well.”

The Midgettes started again in the second inning. Ofstad reached on an error and scored on a single by Brown, her second RBI hit of the ballgame.

Washburn took out pitcher Autumn Koleski after that for the faster Courtney Halvorson. She struck out the next two Hurley batters and got out of the inning with no further damage; Hurley led 6-0.

“She brings the speed; we’re working on her accuracy,” Carrier said.

Hurley scored two more runs in the third inning.

Kuula walked and Butkiewicz followed by putting down a nice bunt. The throw to first ended up in the outfield and Kuula scored. Butkiewicz scored on a wild pitch for an 8-0 Hurley advantage.

The Midgettes added two more runs in the fifth inning to end the game early due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Morgan Pinardi drew a pinch-hit walk and Julia Nelson reached on an infield single. Ofstad walked with the bases loaded and Brown’s sacrifice fly to centerfield gave Hurley 10 runs.

Brown and Ofstad both finished with three RBIs.

No. 5 Cameron won 6-4 at No. 4 Phillips in Thursday’s other game. Cameron plays at No. 1 Chequamegon in the other regional semifinal on Tuesday.

Washburn is a much improved team.

“We’re just working hard. We’re a really young team,” Carrier said. “We’ve got a huge freshmen and sophomore group. This is my third year coaching with the team, the first with the co-op.”

Washburn 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 1 3

Hurley 5 1 2 0 2 — 10 6 0