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Prep Softball | Bloomer 9-6, McDonell 0-1

Prep Softball: Bloomer sweeps McDonell, wins outright Western Cloverbelt title

BLOOMER — It’s always more fun to party at home.

The Bloomer softball team did just that on Tuesday, clinching the outright Western Cloverbelt Conference championship by sweeping a doubleheader with McDonell by scores of 9-0 and 6-1.

The Blackhawks bashed three home runs in the sweep, while senior pitcher Calley Olson piled up a combined 33 strikeouts in the two seven-inning victories.

One big inning in each game helped the Blackhawks (16-2, 13-0) complete the sweep. Bloomer scored seven runs in the third inning of game one and tallied five runs in the fifth inning of the second game.

“This team kind of relies on the big inning and we’re just hoping we would get there and when we did we got five and kind of put the game away,” Bloomer coach Keith Poirier said. “We’ve done that multiple times where we haven’t had great overall games, but this team kind of feeds off each other and it takes something to get them started and once we did that everybody just rolled for five, six, seven at-bats and kind of put the game out of reach.”

Olson hit a home run and drove in two runs in the first game. Delaney Zwiefelhofer also had two hits and drove in one on a double, and Isabel Rubenzer was 2-for-3 with a run batted in. The senior pitcher Olson struck out 18 batters and allowed one hit — a single to Josie Witkowski.

“I don’t think she felt great today,” Poirier said of Olson. “She had a hard time getting loose in her lower half, so we were a little bit worried about it. But once the game started as warm as it is she just loosened up and let it fly.”

Witkowski drove home Becca Baier in the first inning of Game 2, and the Macks carried a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning before the Blackhawks offense came to life.

“I told the girls after the game we played 12 good innings out of 14,” McDonell coach Rick Baier said. “We gave up them seven runs in the debacle, we had four errors in one inning (of Game 1) and we gave up seven runs.”

Olson struck out 15 in the second game while scattering four hits, one walk and one earned run.

“She hits every spot she throws at,” coach Baier said of Olson. “It doesn’t matter what she threw. She threw a change-up for a strike, she threw her rise ball for strikes and not just down the middle strikes, we’re talking the corner.”

Laikyn Maidment and Olson bashed home runs in the second game, while Rubenzer and Karley Rada each had doubles. Olson drove in three runs and also stole a base as the offense woke up from its slumber after Katie Ruf held the Blackhawks hitless for the first four innings of the final game.

“Halfway through that second game (we asked) do you want to celebrate at home or do you want to wait until we go to (Eau Claire) Regis and try to do it there?” Poirier said of his team clinching the conference title.

McDonell moved back into the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association’s Division 5 state poll this week at the tenth position. The Macks (9-6, 7-5) have made some lineup changes in recent games that coach Baier believes will pay off down the stretch. McDonell has a busy close to the week, playing at Osseo-Fairchild on Thursday before closing Western Cloverbelt play in Thorp on Friday. The Macks then hit the road north to Maple to face Heart O’North Conference leader Northwestern for a doubleheader on Saturday.

The win clinches a conference championship for the Bloomer program for a sixth straight season. The Blackhawks won championships in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 in the Heart O’North Conference before making the move to the Western Cloverbelt. The 2020 spring sports season was canceled amid the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s always goal No. 1 to win the conference, and when you switch conferences you don’t know what you’re going to see,” Poirier said. “In some ways you kind of want to represent our old conference too and say we weren’t that bad, we still have some good teams up there. But to come down here and to play I think it’s made us better obviously because every team seems to have some good players on their team.”

Bloomer also moved into the WFSCA Division 3 state poll this week in the seventh spot. The Blackhawks have now won 15 games in a row and knocked off Baldwin-Woodville 3-0 on Saturday in Bloomer. Baldwin-Woodville is Division 3’s fourth-ranked team this week. Poirier said the move to the Western Cloverbelt better prepared his team for situations like Saturday against a strong Blackhawks team with a stellar pitcher in senior Morgan Smetena.

The Blackhawks play at Eau Claire Regis on Friday before traveling to Weyawega-Fremont for a doubleheader Saturday. Bloomer closes the regular season next Tuesday at Prescott versus a Cardinals team ranked fifth in the Division 3 state poll.

“We talked about tonight, we’ve got work to do,” Poirier said. “Our margin for error is basically wherever Calley can put us. We have to support her, and that’s what we didn’t do early in the season. As long as we can get a few good at-bats and put the bat on the ball and play solid defense behind her — because people put the ball in play, the defense is going to have to show up — and I think even tonight in the second game she didn’t strike out as many early, but we made enough plays to keep it going and she again gained momentum as the game went on and piled up some strikeouts in Game 2.”

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