Fourth-seeded Royalton slugged four home runs, then sweated out a tense seventh inning as it edged visiting fifth-seeded Upsala 10-9 in Tuesday’s opening round of the Sub-Section 5A West playoffs.
Senior Jacquline Nichols led the way, going 4-for-4 with two home runs and seven RBIs.
Sophomores Kayla Eli and Nicole Popp also went deep with solo shots.
Sophomore Payton Johnson and freshman Jordyn Bzdok each went 3-for-4, with Johnson collecting the Royals’ other RBI.
Upsala trailed 10-5 after five innings, but kept applying pressure, cutting the gap to 10-8 in the sixth on a two-run single by senior Jenny Wuebkers and an RBI triple by senior Katie Ripplinger.
Freshman Katlin Welinski drilled an RBI single in the top of the seventh to pull the Cardinals within one and advance the tying run to third base, but freshman relief pitcher Ali Tresco induced a pop up for the third and final out as the Royals advanced.
Eli earned the win pitching as well, striking out 10 batters over 5 2/3 innings.
Upsala finished the season with a record of 6-8.
Seniors on this year’s roster were Barb Kobylinski, Wuebkers, Kaelin Smieja and Ripplinger.
Royals bounced twice Wednesday
Royalton then advanced to Wednesday’s double-elimination portion of the bracket, but ended up falling 7-2 to top-seeded Eden Valley-Watkins (EVW) and 13-3 to second-seeded Kimball Area in games played in Minnewaska.
Nichols went 2-for-4 with an RBI versus EVW, with Eli and Johnson both singling and driving in a run.
Nichols added one final big performance at the plate against Kimball, going 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.
“Jacquline Nichols had a great year, leading the team both offensively and defensively,” Royalton head coach Amy Krueger said. “She made so many big plays that set off a sequence of events to help us come back from a deficit or to give us that little extra. She will be greatly missed next year in Royalton, but will continue to shine in her softball career at Augsburg College.”
Cimenski added two hits and Popp knocked in a run.
Royalton finished the season with a record of 7-10.
Seniors on this year’s roster included Smekofske, Nichols and Katelyn Kasella.
“The team entered playoffs with a can-do attitude and gave it all they had,” Krueger said. “The game against Upsala was a night to remember … then we faced the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds of our sub-section and came up short when time ran out. The girls played with lot of heart and tenacity.”
Kimball quickly erases deficit, eliminates Swanville
Seventh-seeded Swanville pushed across two quick runs in the top of the first inning.
But second-seeded Kimball Area scored 12 of the game’s final 13 runs, topping the visiting Bulldogs 12-3 in the first round of the Sub-Section 5A West playoffs.
Senior Jackie Panek collected three of Swanville’s five hits, with junior Danica Hanson and sophomore Ellie Koetter each adding one.
Junior Simone Grittner, sophomore Haileigh Sales and Koetter all scored.
“We played a sloppy game, committing eight errors with eight walks,” Swanville head coach Tom Bzdok said. “It’s hard to win games when you allow 16 base runners like that. We also had a hard time hitting their pitcher, who threw harder than what we have seen this year.”
Swanville finished with a record of 1-11.
Seniors on this year’s roster were Ashley Maciej, Nikki Primus and Jackie Panek.
In the final two days of the regular season:
Royals plate whopping 31 runs
Royalton tallied 11 runs in the first inning and was off to the races from there, hammering host Eagle Valley 31-5, May 15.
The Royals had 11 players combine for 22 hits, led by Nichols, Eli and Jordyn Bzdok, who each had three hits and combined for 15 RBIs and 10 runs scored.
Smekofske, Cimenski, sophomore Liz Czech, Tresco and freshman Destiny Talbot-Senn had two hits apiece, with Cimenski and Talbot-Senn each driving in three runs and Czech scoring four times.
Johnson doubled and freshmen Amy Neu and Brandi Kloss each added a hit, while Kasella drew three walks, stole three bases and scored twice.
Tresco earned the complete-game win pitching, allowing only one earned run.
Upsala drops pair
Upsala dropped its final two contests of the regular season, falling 15-2 at Browerville, May 15 and 14-6 against visiting West Central Area, May 16.