Peshtigo’s Dani Zahn steals second base as Wausaukee shortstop Sar Wickman makes the tag in the second inning Monday in Peshtigo.  EagleHerald/Jody Korch
Peshtigo’s Dani Zahn steals second base as Wausaukee shortstop Sar Wickman makes the tag in the second inning Monday in Peshtigo.
EagleHerald/Jody Korch
PESHTIGO - With the balance of power in the M&O Conference hinging on every pitch, it only seemed like the drama was thick at the East Side Ballfields.

The Peshtigo softball team calmly made the plays to get out of a jam and edged Wausaukee 5-4 on Monday.

Peshtigo improved to 7-0 in the M&O; Wausaukee is 5-1.

"It keeps us in contention," Peshtigo coach Tom Christensen said. "Now it's ours to keep."

Trailing 5-3 entering its last at-bat, Wausaukee did what it needed to have a chance. Veronica Shaw slugged a leadoff double into the left/center gap. One out later, Kaylor DeLaet walked. Pitcher Maizie Reif fell behind 3-0 on dangerous No. 3 hitter Sara Wickman. Reif threw a strike, then coaxed Wickman to hit into a force play at third base.

Lauren Edlbeck then lofted an RBI double down the left field line to put the tying and winning runs in scoring position, but Reif ended the game with a strikeout.

"We had ourselves in a good position to win a ballgame," Wausaukee coach Sue Stoltenberg said. "It just didn't happen tonight."

Peshtigo catcher Dani Zahn, who blocked a pitch in the dirt to prevent Wickman from scoring the tying run in the seventh, didn't feel nervous in the final inning.

"It was more like fun to watch," she said. "When I was up to bat I went up there with full confidence."

Trailing 3-2, Peshtigo mounted the winning rally in the sixth inning. Leadoff batter Carlee Mylener reached on a wild throw after a wild third strike. Ryleigh Klaver then placed a perfect bunt single down the third-base line. Jaden Russell lined a two-run single up the middle, and Zahn crushed an RBI double into the right/center gap.

The teams will meet again in Wausaukee on May 14.

"We have the target on our backs," Stoltenberg said. "We're the defending champions, and we're going to come back and play like defending champions."

Wausaukee took the lead in its first at-bat. Crystal Clark drew a leadoff walk, advanced on Wickman's base hit and scored on Edlbeck's single to left.

Peshtigo capitalized on Zahn's infield hit and a three-base error to plate two runs in the second.

Wausaukee tied the game in the third when Kaylor DeLaet reached on an error, Wickman beat out an infield single and Edlbeck singled down the third-base line.

The Lady Rangers regained the lead in the fifth. Clark reached on an error and scored on a wild pitch.

While there were six unearned runs, the good defensive plays outnumbered the errors. Wickman made a couple of diving stops at shortstop for putouts. Clark and DeLaet also made good infield plays. For Peshtigo, first baseman Teja Tonn made a diving catch of a blooper and Mylener was a vacuum cleaner at shortstop.

For weeks, the Bulldogs were preparing for Wausaukee, knowing that senior starters Abbi Frederickson, Taylor Romenesko, Jen Harris and Shannen Ganter would miss the game due to a school funtion. Enter Klaver at third, Tonn at first and Brooke Immel at second.

"Our jayvee players we brought up did a heckuva job," Christensen said. "Everything pretty much that we asked them to do, they got 'er done."

WP - Maizie Reif 7 IP, 4R, 2ER, 8H, 2W, 3K

LP - Lauren Edlbeck 6 IP, 5R, 1ER, 5H, 0W, 2K

Leading hitters (Peshtigo): Dani Zahn 2x3, 2B, RBI; Ryleigh Klaver 2x3; Jaden Russell 1x3, 2 RBIs; (Wausaukee): Edlbeck 3x4, 2B, 3 RBIs; Sara Wickman 2x4; Veronica Shaw 1x3, 2B; Morgan Zeutzius 1x3

Wausaukee 101 010 1 - 4

Peshtigo 020 030 x - 5