Wildcats can’t keep up with Monarchs

Millard West pitching struggles as Papillion piles up runs


Photo by Emma Edelman

Senior Ava Rongisch had a clutch two run single to tie up the game in the third inning. Although the Wildcats ended up losing this game, it taught them plenty of lessons they can use during the last few games of the season. “These last few games we can work on playing through adversity and when things aren’t going well, and how we respond,” Rongisch said. “The game is all about failure, but it’s what you do after that’ll make you better.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

The Millard West Varsity Softball team traveled to Papillion on Saturday, Sept. 27, to take on the Papillion La-Vista Monarchs for the fourth time this season. The Monarchs won the first two meetings, while the Wildcats won the third matchup and looked to even the series.

Both of these teams are very competitive and have very similar records. The Wildcats entered the game with a record of 12-10, while the Monarchs came in at 13-10. 

Millard West came to bat in the top of the first inning. They faced off against Monarch freshman pitcher Carly Bertolini who was making her 14th start of the season. Senior Riley Kramolisch led off the game with a single to the shortstop; however, three quick outs ended the Wildcat half of the first.

The Wildcats tabbed a sophomore to do the pitching and placed the ball in the hands of Belle Akins. The Monarchs started the inning strong; junior Emmie Wills led off the inning with a double to right field. Senior Alex Stoner followed that up with a homerun over the center field fence to give Papillion a quick 2-0 lead. Akins then induced two quick outs before allowing another double to right field which put the Monarchs in a good position to score once more before the inning ended. That was not the case, though, as senior Kaelyn Hamblen flew out to center field to end the inning.

Millard West came to bat in the top of the second already in a quick hole and were looking to get back into the game. Senior Bella Bacon led off the inning with a single and took second base on a wild pitch soon after. However, two straight groundouts and a strikeout to end the inning halted the Wildcats’ hopes of closing the gap.

The Monarchs came to the plate in the bottom of the second hoping to extend their lead. Senior Maddie Delos Reyes led off the inning with a single to left field. Following that, Akins quickly gathered two outs, giving Papillion a runner at first with two outs in the inning. Akins then surrendered a walk before getting a groundout to end the inning and keep the score at 2-0.

The Wildcats came to bat in the top of third and started off strong with back to back singles, the first by sophomore Kaitlyn Fisher and the second by Kramolisch. Junior Jayci Reimers also hit a single; Fisher was thrown out trying to score, and on the throw Kramolisch and Reimers each moved up a base. This gave Millard West runners at second and third with one out — the chance they needed to get back in the game. Senior Ava Rongisch stepped up to the plate and lined a ball up the middle and into center field, scoring both runners on base. 

“It’s a great feeling coming through for your team,” Rongisch said. “We always say ‘pressure is a privilege’ and how we handle that pressure is a big part of the game. I knew I needed to put the ball in play and find the green.”

Senior Emma Van Boskirk followed that up by reaching on an error by the shortstop. Bacon and junior Claire Besancon kept the momentum going for the Wildcats, each hitting singles of their own: Bacon’s to load the bases and Besancon’s to bring home a run. After these singles the Wildcats led 3-2 with two outs and the bases loaded. Papillon then struck out the next Wildcat batter which gave them two outs and a good chance to get out of the inning with minimal damage, however, junior Jordyn Klein reached on a costly error by the Monarch’s shortstop and scored the Wildcats fourth run of the inning. The inning ended when Fisher grounded out to the shortstop.

The Monarchs came to bat in the bottom of the fourth having lost their lead and all of their momentum. This seemed to light a spark in their offense as they exploded for seven runs during the inning. Akins was pulled from the game and replaced by freshman Caitlyn Semple who took over and ultimately finished the inning. Once the inning was completed, the Wildcats trailed 4-9.

“When you give up a lot it puts pressure on your offense to produce,” head coach Don Brummer said. “In turn you push too hard at the plate. We need to continue to be aggressive at the plate and use the lesson to improve and be ready for the postseason.”

Nothing materialized for either team during the fourth inning. The struggles continued into the top of the fifth for the Wildcats where they could not seem to get the bats rolling.

“We weren’t adjusting at the plate, we were consistently swinging at pitches that were not in our zone and not making good contact,” Kramolisch said. “We can work on stringing our hits together and adjusting at the plate during at bats, rather than constantly having the same approach and not having the outcome we wanted.”

The Monarchs entered the bottom of the fifth with a large lead already; however, they weren’t done yet. Junior Emma McGrath led off the inning with a single to first base. Wills followed that up by hitting a two run homer over the center field wall, extending Papillon’s lead to 11-4, but the Monarchs still weren’t done. Stoner worked a walk, and just a few pitches later, junior Haley Wilwerding hit a two run home run of her own over the center field fence. This increased Papillion’s lead to 13-4, so, because of the mercy run in place, the game was over.

The Wildcats ended up losing this game, putting their overall record at 12-11. However, the Wildcats beat Bellevue East and Omaha Central back to back which put them at 14-11 with only one game left in the regular season.