|6/17/2022 9:39:00 AM|
Barneveld softball brings home first silver ball
By Levi Zimmerman
It has been a season to remember for the Barneveld softball team.
The Golden Eagles won the Six Rivers - East conference with a 10-0 record.
They would then go on to be the #2 seed in the WIAA Division 5 playoffs and defeat Cambria-Friesland 4-0, then defeating Catholic Central 9-0 to win a Regional Championship.
Barneveld kept it rolling and upset #1 Oakfield 5-3 in a Sectional Semifinal.
The Golden Eagles would then face a familiar foe in Pecatonica in a Sectional Final.
Barneveld beat the Vikings twice in the Regular season by close margins, 2-1 and 3-1.
But with a State Tournament berth on the line, the Golden Eagles shut out Pecatonica 4-0 to win a Sectional Final and qualify for the State Tournament for the first time in program history.
On Friday morning at the Goodman Softball Complex on the UW campus in Madison, Barneveld was not intimidated and went out and defeated the Edgar Wildats 5-1 in a State Semifinal to play for a State Championship.
On Saturday morning, the weather was chilly and overcast with light rain off and on, but the Barneveld faithful wasn't bothered.
The fans filed into the complex in flocks, sporting purple and gold and cheering loud for their Golden Eagles.
The Barneveld fans drastically outnumbered the #1 Assumption fans.
The bleachers were filled behind the Golden Eagles dugout with standing room only at times.
It seemed the entire village of Barneveld took the drive west down U.S Highway 151 to support their beloved Golden Eagles.
After the pre-game festivities were concluded and the national anthem played, the Division 5 State Championship was underway.
Barneveld was the away team as the #2 seed and batted first.
After a ground out and a strikeout, sophomore Isabel Leahy reached on an Assumption error, but she didn't get far, as a ground out ended the top of the first inning.
Barneveld senior Daelynn Rhoades got the start for the Golden Eagles in the circle.
Rhoades struck out 12 and allowed just three hits in the semifinal against Edgar.
Rhoades strarted ther bottom of the first with back-to-back strikeouts, picking up where she left off Friday.
But the Royals grabbed momentumm with one swift swing of the bat.
Assumption's Ava Schill, the starting pitcher, smacked a solo home run to right field that was a no-doubter.
The Royals took a quick 1-0 lead.
Claire Nelson would then hit a two-out single to right and advance to second on a passed ball.
It appeared Rhoades and Barneveld were going to get out of a jam, as she struck out Lydia Smits, but the ball went in the dirt.
Smits sprinted for first base and was safe on an erran throw by catcher Emma Gordon, resulting in Nelson scoring to put the Royals ahead 2-0.
Barneveld finally ended the bleeding, as Rhoades struck out Assumption's Macy Vollert.
The Golden Eagles got their first hit of the game on a line drive up the middle by junior Hailey Larson.
But Schill left her on base with a strikeout to end the bottom of the first.
Barneveld head coach Jason Gordon elected to put junior Nicole Fahey in the circle in the second inning, and Fahey proceeded to strikeout the side in order.
The score would remain 2-0 until the bottom of the fifth inning.
With two outs, Cristin Casey singled up the middle and went on to steal second base.
Assumption's Ava Schill helped herself, hitting an RBI single on a fly ball to shallow right field, bringing the score to 3-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, Smits led-off and reached on an error at third base.
Fahey would then walk Sadie Galbreath with one out.
Fahey responded with a strikeout of Maleia Kolo for the second out.
Assumption's Maddie Abbott grounded out to Fahey who threw to first to leave two runners on base and holding the Golden Eagles' deficit to three.
With three outs left in the top of the seventh, Barneveld rallied.
Fahey led-off with a double to deep left field.
Freshman Madeline Grabandt entered as a pinch-runner.
Sophomore Haedyn Swenson hit a ground out to move Grabandt to third.
Larson struck out for the second out.
Rhoades stepped into the batter's box and hit a single to right, scoring Barneveld's first run of the game.
The Golden Eagles moved the tying run to the plate in senior Zoe Schmitz.
Schmitz smacked a line drive to the left side that was caught by the shortstop, and the game ended abruptly.
Assumption won 3-1 and claimed the WIAA Division 5 State Championship.
The Barneveld players embraced each other on the field and felt the loss together.
But it wasn't a lack of trying.
The Golden Eagles battled and made history by being the first Barneveld softball team to reach the State Tournament and the Championship game.
After the game, Barneveld head coach Jason Gordon shared his thoughts on the experience.
"It's fantastic. It's a win, win for the program and the school," Gordon stated. "Yes, it's dissapointing that we didn't play to the best of our abilities, but they (Assumption) played really well. But, in the end, it's awesome."
One of the three seniors, Daelynn Rhoades, also shared her feelings following the big game.
"Honestly, I feel more proud than anything. It's not the outcome we wanted, but there's still so much to be proud of," Rhoades stated.
Asked what it took to get to State, Rhoades said, "It took a lot of grit. That's one thing Coach Jason always talks about."
The senior said the team held practices in the early morning hours in the days leading up to State to prepare to play at 8 a.m.
Rhoades said comraderie and energy were important for the Golden Eagles to have success.
Senior Emma Gordon had emotional words after playing her final high school softball game.
"Me and Daelynn have pitch and caught together since fourth grade, so the end of that is hard," said Gordon.
"And my dad is the head coach, and I'll never be able to play for dad again. It's just sad," Gordon expressed.
Gordon said she will be going to Ellsworth Community College to continue her softball career.
Gordon said she will play there for two years and see where what happens after that.
Like Rhoades, Gordon mentioned last year's loss to Oakfield in a Sectional Final.
The pair said they've been using that loss as fuel to get revenge.
"I think that fueld all of our fire. We were in the shed this winter for a lot of hours and nights," said Gordon.
"This team just has a lot of grit, and we just didn't take losing as an answer. I think that's what got us here," she stated.
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