Germantown girls softball co-coach Amy Barbiaux was a happy person following the Warhawks 8-1 victory Thursday night over North Shore Conference rival Nicolet.
It had been Junior Warhawks nights where she and the rest of the program were able to thank the youth teams and coaches that provide so much talent for the varsity. Signed team softballs or individual lessons with coaches were raffled off between innings which made everyone happy.
The win improved the Warhawks to 13-0 and 16-4 overall and clinched a share of the team's second straight North Shore title.
But Barbiaux's happiness was tempered by the fact that to make this championship clean and official the Warhawks will have to beat archrival Homestead (12-1, 16-2) on Monday at 4:15 p.m. on the Highlanders' home field in Thiensville Park. The game will be the closer to the conference season.
"Every team has certain goals, making state is one of them," she said, "but this (conference) comes first and we know we're not done yet. We know winning this conference means a lot as there a lot of good players and pitchers out there for us to contend with."
Including a rapidly improving Nicolet squad which fell to 5-8 in league and 10-9 overall. Coach Brad Kuehl is hoping the team can finish strong and conclude the regular season with its first winning record since 1995.
"We're looking to shake that stigma and get the program back on track," he said. "We've played pretty good ball most of the season and I think we have one of the better infields inthe conference. It's just that a team like Germantown is going to be able to string a few hits together like they tonight."
Which happened in the bottom of the first, as after Knight pitcher Amanda Mehl got the first two outs, the Warhawks' Erika Swoboda snapped a laser beam of a line drive off the bottom of the centerfield wall for a double.
That was followed in quick succession by an RBI single from Addy Green, an RBI double from Jessica Cemke, and RBI singles from Felicia Kons and Paige Grimm for a 4-0 lead.
"I think that we had 14 hits on the night," said Barbiaux. "We had 21 in another game the other night. We're just really getting it done at the plate, which is great to see."
Starting and winning pitcher Lauren Renard made that lead stand up. She surrendered a triple to the Knights' Lanoira Duhart in the first but left her at third and gave up only two more hits on the night.
Cemke added an RBI single in the second, while Nicolet's Duhart scored in the fourth after a walk and a throwing error.
Germantown put the game away for good in the fifth, when Renard had the last of her three hits, a long, looping bases-loaded triple down the third base line that scored all three runs and made it 8-1.
In the top of the fifth, Renard got the Knights' Jaclyn Clark to strike out looking to end a bases-loaded threat. Renard finished with 11 strikeouts and three walks. Amanda Witzlib struck out the side in the seventh in relief. Both Swoboda and Kelsey Smith also had two hits apiece for the Warhawks.
"Lauren (Renard) did a nice job," said Barbiaux. "They had runners on a lot tonight, but she was able to stay out of any real trouble."
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