After an exhausting and frustrating day where it lost three of four games in its own tournament on May 3, the Germantown softball team needed a lift.
And the Warhawks got one.
Despite an injury to ace pitcher Kimmy Soderberg in a 14-10 win over rival Homestead on May 7, the Warhawks pulled off four straight North Shore Conference victories last week to cement their league lead.
Germantown beat Whitefish Bay, 7-3, on May 5, Cedarburg, 14-0, on May 6, Homestead on May 7 and Milwaukee Lutheran, 3-2, on May 8 to improve to 10-7 overall and 9-0 in NSC play. They started the week with a two game advantage in the loss column on Grafton (8-2) and three on Homestead (7-3).
"We feel a lot better now," said co-coach Kurt Raguse. "A lot better than when we played four games in one day (in the Warhawks' own tourney). But look, we play tough competition in our non-conference schedule and sometimes in a situation like that, you're going to get beat up.
"But you look at it, the girls still really want it. They know we have to play really well (in order to succeed) and this past week, they stepped up to the challenge."
The defending NSC champion Warhawks had three scheduled games earlier this week and will have a rematch with Homestead at 4:10 p.m. Thursday, May 15 at Thiensville Village Park.
They will entertain Port Washington in an NSC doubleheader on Monday, May 19, starting at 5 p.m. The games are tentatively slated to be their NSC closers.
A key to the Warhawks defending their title will be the health of Soderberg, who was injured when she was covering the plate on a play and had her hand slid into. Raguse was uncertain of her status for this week's games.
In the interim, Jordan Wood is trying to pick up the slack in the pitcher's circle with help from Michelle Moore.
Wood had to step into the breach when Soderberg was hurt in the fifth inning against Homestead. Wood struggled with control at first (three strikeouts and three walks) as Germantown fell behind 8-6 in the top of the sixth. But the offense exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the sixth and seized the lead back for good.
"I just went out to 'Jordy' and looked at her and said 'We have to have you right now. Just throw strikes. Don't start thinking that it's Homestead, though I know that's hard to do,'" Raguse said. "When she went back in the following inning, she just went back to work."
Erica Berry had three hits, four runs scored, two hits and two RBI for Germantown, while Haley Johnson had two hits, and Korey Rossman two hits and an RBI.
"We have a few kids who are red-hot right now in conference play," Raguse said. "Kids like Haley Johnson, Carly Szada, Erica Berry and Rose Dobrogowski, and others are chipping in with big at-bats, too."
Wood had a much better day against Lutheran in her first full start of the week as she scattered five hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts. She limited a Red Knight rally to one run in the seventh as Szada had two hits with two RBI and Dobrogowski and Soderberg (who was still able to swing a bat) had two hits each.
A two-run first gave the team the lead for good.
In the rout of Cedarburg, an 11-run first took care of things and then some as Caitlin Conway had three hits, two runs scored and two RBI while Szada had two hits and two runs scored and Amanda Williams had two hits.
Soderberg threw a five-inning shutout with five strikeouts.
Germantown built a 5-1 lead after four innings and then held on to beat a tough Bay squad on May 5 as Szada had two hits with two runs scored and Johnson also had two hits.
Wood got the win in that game with eight strikeouts and five walks.
Raguse is still cautiously optimistic.
"The schedule is a little hectic for us," he said. "We don't know what Kimmy's status is but we should still be OK pitching-wise."
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