BLOOMER — Faced with the biggest challenge of the softball season so far, Bloomer stepped up.
Calley Olson struck out 17 batters in a complete-game gem while Laikyn Maidment homered and drove in all three runs of a 3-0 Bloomer victory over state-ranked Baldwin-Woodville on Saturday. Bloomer (13-2) started the day with a 4-3 victory over Menomonie in nine innings before winning the battle of the Blackhawks in the second game of a four-team invite that also included Onalaska.
Olson and the Bloomer defense worked out of early trouble against Baldwin-Woodville (12-3), a team ranked third in Division 3 in the latest Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association state poll. Baldwin-Woodville loaded the bases in the first and had two on with one out in the fourth but Olson would get out of the jams with strikeouts.
“We came into the game seeing if we could compete with a team of that caliber and we not only competed, Calley probably threw one of her best games of the year,” Bloomer coach Keith Poirier said.
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In total all 17 of Olson’s strikeouts were swinging and she registered the first 14 outs of the game via the strikeout.
“Sometimes it gets a little boring in the outfield,” Maidment said of playing behind Olson with a laugh. “But we trust her.”
Olson scattered three hits and walked two and struck out eight batters in a row at one point as the Minot State University signee dominated.
“She had command of four different pitches,” Poirier said of Olson. “That makes her tough.”
Maidment provided all the offense needed on a pair of swings. The first came in the fourth inning when Maidment plated Karley Rada on a single to right-center field after Rada opened the inning with a walk. She advanced to second on a wild pitch before moving up to third on a double off the wall by Delaney Zwiefelhofer.
Maidment came through again two innings later with a blast out to left field to plate Zwiefelhofer and herself and push the lead to three runs.
“I was just looking to move people, I wasn’t really looking for the home run,” Maidment said.
Baldwin-Woodville put a two-out runner on in the seventh before Olson struck out Brooke Klatt to end the game. Baldwin-Woodville was the Division 2 state runner-up a season ago and this year moves down to Division 3 where they are in the same sectional as Bloomer. Another meeting could be possible if both teams advance to the sectional finals and Bloomer is already familiar with the team beyond Saturday’s meeting. Baldwin-Woodville dealt Bloomer a 10-0 defeat early last season in Bloomer.
“We bring them in and the past few years we’ve gotten a lesson,” Poirier said of facing Baldwin-Woodville, “and it breaks it up a little bit so we can get back to work. Today the speech afterwards was this can go one of two ways – we can think we’ve arrived or we can get back to work on Monday and use this as a stepping stone. Just a huge win for us, though.”
Bloomer started the day with some late-game heroics in a 4-3 win over the Mustangs. Rada had three hits in the first game while Olson drilled a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Delaney Zwiefelhofer and Isabel Rubenzer had two hits apiece with Rubenzer driving in one run and scoring the walk-off run in the bottom of the ninth on a wild pitch.
Olson struck out 13 batters while scattering four hits, one walk and three runs (one earned). Bloomer committed two errors in both games but the two against Baldwin-Woodville came early and didn’t result in any runs.
“(We’re) able to trust them when we need it,” Olson said of the defense.
“Once they get settled into it they’re playing much better defense,” Poirier said.
Bloomer owns the top spot in the Western Cloverbelt Conference standings with three games to go. The Blackhawks can clinch the outright league championship with two wins against McDonell in Tuesday’s doubleheader before the team closes league play at Eau Claire Regis on Friday.
Overall, Bloomer has won at least a share of five consecutive conference championships dating back to the program’s time in the Heart O’North from 2016-21 with no 2020 season.
Saturday’s wins moved Bloomer’s win streak to 12 in a row after starting the season 1-2. Offense was hard to come by for the Blackhawks in early losses to Grayslake Central (Ill.) and Altoona, but Poirier said ever since an 11-1 win over Fall Creek on April 19, the team’s offense has been playing at a higher level.
“These girls can hit,” Poirier said. “It took us a little while, our first two losses early in the season (we had) a combined five hits. We just had to back to basics.”