Monroe struck out 14 East Troy Trojans and advanced to sectionals for the first time since 2013 as the Cheesemakers tossed a shutout in a 6-0 victory Friday night to win a WIAA Softball Regional Championship.
A dominant effort on the mound again from junior Olivia Bobak was the key to victory for the Cheesemakers. Bobak threw a no-hitter against Whitewater earlier in the week for a WIAA Regional victory, and scattered five hits in a complete-game shutout on Friday night in the Regional Final.
Bobak got started early, striking out two Trojans in the top half of the first inning. Monroe led off the bottom of the first with a strikeout, but Hailey Betthauser singled and then stole second base during Sydney Updike's at-bat. Updike fouled off three straight pitches before launching a change-up into the trees beyond the center field fence, an absolute no-doubter of a home run, to make it 2-0 Monroe in the bottom of the second. Bobak tripled to follow up, but was stranded and the inning ended with no further runs scored.
Bobak made quick work of East Troy in the second inning, getting two more strikeouts in a 1-2-3 half-inning of work.
In the bottom of the second, leadoff batter and catcher Katie Hayes walked, and Sarah Prien checked in as the courtesy runner at first. She would come around to score two batters later on a throwing error from third base that got out of the infield to make it 3-0 Monroe. After another walk, Betthauser singled to load the bases with two outs for Updike, who had hit a two-run homer in the first inning. This time, she simply singled in two runs to give her for RBI for the game, and extended Monroe's lead to 5-0 after two innings of work.
Bobak would strike out three batters in the top half of the third, while also allowing a single after the second strikeout of the inning, her 200th strikeout of the season. Monroe went down in order in the bottom of the third.
East Troy got a one-out double in the fourth inning from Erin Rice, but couldn't cash in the run after flying out to center and to right to finish the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Monroe got a leadoff single from Erica Snider, but couldn't do anything with it, so the score remained 5-0 Cheesemakers heading to the fifth inning.
More strong work from Bobak in the top of the fifth stranded a Trojans runner on base, with the Monroe pitcher reaching her tenth strikeout in the inning.
Monroe would get an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning when Grace Tostrud launched a center field bomb into the trees, nearly as far as Updike's home run in the first inning, to make it 6-0 Cheesemakers.
The sixth inning started promising enough for Monroe, with back-to-back strikeouts by Bobak to bring her total to a dozen on the game. Rice and Megan Verbeten each singled to get runners at first and second with two outs for East Troy's rally, but it was more solid pitching as Olivia Bobak got her 13th strikeout of the game to end the top half of the sixth inning.
Monroe's half of the sixth inning was uneventful, with a single mixed in with three groundouts. East Troy's final three outs went flyout, strikeout (number 14 for Bobak), and groundout to first to end the game in the seventh inning, with Monroe ending a regional championship drought that had existed since 2013 with a 6-0 victory over East Troy.
"I'd like to think we're peaking at the right time," said Monroe manager Joe O'Leksy, alluding to back-to-back shutouts to open the playoffs. "Now we've got a couple of days off before practice on Monday. We're going to face a really good pitcher, something we'll see the rest of the way in the playoffs. We'll be ready."
-Monroe's Olivia Bobak, who had only one walk in a no-hitter against Whitewater earlier in the week, scattered five hits and a walk over seven innings in just 83 pitches. She notched her 200th strikeout of the season, tossing 14 in the game, and has 208 on the season.
-All but one Cheesemakers batter recorded a hit in the game. Monroe batted 9-for-26 in the game and also drew two walks and laid down a sacrifice bunt, good for a .346 batting average in the game.
-Monroe entered the game having hit just a dozen home runs all year, but got two in this victory. Sydney Updike's two-run blast in the first to open the scoring was her second this season, with her other one a game-deciding grand slam against Monona Grove in extra innings.
-The Cheesemakers didn't allow an East Troy runner to advance past second base in the entire game.
-Not every East Troy hitter necessarily struggled against Olivia Bobak. Junior Erin Rice went 2-for-3 with a double, and was the only Trojan to make it past first base in the entire game.
-This was Monroe's 16th Regional Championship in softball all-time and the first since 2013.
-Monroe will face Delavan-Darien at home in the WIAA Sectional Semifinals on Tuesday at Twining Park.
Final: Monroe 6, East Troy 0
WP: Monroe/Olivia Bobak (CG, SHO, 7IP, 0R, 5H, 1BB, 14K)
LP: East Troy/Megan Verbeten (2IP, 5R, 5H, 2 BB, 2K)
East Troy: SS Erin Rice 2-3, 2B; CF Sydney Raddeman 1-3, 1B Dani Rudolph 1-3, P Megan Verbeten 1-3.
Monroe: RF Sydney Updike 2-3, HR, 4 RBI, R; CF Hailey Betthauser 2-4, SB, R; 1B Grade Tostrud 1-3, HR, RBI, R; 2B Alyse Maurer 1-3, R, SB.
Time Of Game: 1:15
First Pitch: 5:01 p.m.
Weather: 79 degrees, cloudy, wind 5-10 (out to left)
Location: Twining Park, Monroe, Wis.