As if it needed to be told to Germantown softball pitcher Felicia Kons, nothing about defending a North Shore Conference championship is ever going to be easy.
Take the day the Warhawks had on Wednesday, where due to numerous rainouts and cancellations, they found themselves in the situation of having to play an unusual doubleheader.
Earlier in the day, Germantown edged Grafton, 2-1, in a road game behind the pitching of Amanda Witzlib.
Then before the Warhawks had a chance to breath, they hopped back on the bus and made their way back to their Kennedy Middle School home fields for a night game with Whitefish Bay.
And as noted, nothing would be easy. The Warhawks needed an unearned run in the first, and the steady pitching of Kons to pull out the 1-0 win, a victory that helped them improve to 11-0 in North Shore play.
Kons left a lead-off triple stranded in the second inning and then stifled a third-inning bases-loaded threat with a strikeout looking of the Blue Dukes' best hitter, Amelia Flint, the same person who had roped that triple in the first inning.
All in a day's work, she said.
"Coach (Kurt Raguse) calls the pitches and we've been working a lot on the corners," said Kons. "We mixed up the pitches and kept them off-balance."
For Bay coach Jessica Middendorf, it was another in a string of frustrating losses for the 4-7 Blue Dukes, who otherwise played a solid game against Germantown.
"All season long, it's been that same problem," she said. "We just can't get that big hit when we need it. It really makes a difference, and right now we're just not quite getting it done."
Kons finished with seven strikeouts against just one walk while the Blue Dukes' Kenzie McElduff had two strikeouts against just two walks.
Germantown scored the only run of the game in the first inning, as lead-off hitter Erika Berry rapped a hard single and then stole second. After a strikeout, McElduff induced a ground-ball to second. Bay easily got the out at first but the throw from first over to third to try and catch Berry was off the mark allowing the Warhawk speedster to score easily.
"Hey, that's softball sometimes," said Germantown co-coach Raguse. "You take the breaks when you get them."
It looked like Bay was going to tie the game or better when Flint belted her linedrive to leftcenter to lead off the second. It looked like an easy double, but she used her speed to make it a three-bagger.
"That's something we do have a great deal of," said Middendorf. "A lot of speed at the top of the order."
But then Kons buckled down and induced a short pop-up to center. She then got the next two batters to strike out, the first looking, the second swinging, to end the threat.
"That's just Felicia," said Raguse. "You say 'Here you go, you have a problem' and then she buckles down and gets the job done."
That trait had to manifest itself again in the next frame, as after Kons got the first two outs, Bay got singles from both Anna Lauko and Hallie Mellendorf. Kons then compounded her problem by walking Maggie Hankerd to load the bases.
But no matter, Kons got Flint looking to end the inning.
After that, Bay could never get anyone past first as Kons put down the last seven in order.
"That last one (Flint) was nerve-wracking," said Kons. "It was a full-count pitch too."
"Those were major chances," said Middendorf.
McElduff kept the Blue Dukes in the game by knocking down later Germantown threats.
"She's a smart pitcher and a battler too," said Middendorf.
Now Kons and the rest of the Warhawks want to battle their way back to another league title and a repeat berth in the WIAA State Tournament.
"We're gaining confidence," she said. "We've gotten on a bit of a roll, a good run. It's nice to see at this time of year, because we really want to make it back to state."
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