There was much excitement as to what the Lady Hatchets could produce in their fifth season of competition. Coaches Don Hanson and Gary Nelmark were extremely optimistic and felt that good things could happen to this group of young ladies if opportunity fell into place. Overcoming early season miscues and developing as a finely tuned team would assist them to make a run deep into the playoffs. Little did they know that they would set the standards that have never been duplicated some 26 years later!
Team members included Heather Imm, Kris Theiler, Kelly O’Leary, Carmen Schoone, Chris Jurgens, Diane Hess, Dorrie Hanson, Connie Theiler, Suzi Schell, Sue Hanson, Leslie DeBels, Hiromi Ogawa, Sue Schoen, Penny Radtke, Nancy Van Strydonk, Kathy Reich, Chris Morren, Kim Krutchen, & Diane DuPlayee. Tomahawk would produce a 13-7 season with eleven of their games being determined by two runs or less. Following is a brief summary of this season that ended at the state finals.
The Hatchets opened the season with a 14-13 win over Wabeno. In this game Tomahawk would have 14 hits, 14 errors and lead by Leslie DeBels, 3-5 at the plate. Tomahawk would then win a 17-16 nine inning game over Lakeland. The team was down 10-0 after two innings and would secure their second win of the season when Heather Imm hit a game winning triple scoring Nancy Van Strydonk. In this game the Hatchets had 21 hits & 12 errors with Kris Theiler, 4-6. Two losses, 8-4 to Crandon (Nancy Van Strydonk, 3-4) and 8-7 to Rhinelander (Kris Theiler, 2-2) would prove to be learning experiences, as Tomahawk scored four runs in the 7th to almost defeat the Hodags. They demonstrated the will to battle back at all stages of the game.
A 13-12 victory over Three Lakes was thrilling as they drew two bases loaded walks in the bottom of the 7th for the win. Penny Radtke would produce the game winning RBI by taking a ball on a full count. They were indeed handling the pressure well. Two tough losses to Ashland by scores of 11-9 and 11-7 were followed by a 12-8 win over Wabeno and another 17-16 victory over Lakeland. In this game Kris Theiler hit a 7th inning single, stole second and scored when Kim Kruchten hit a shot off the glove of the Lakeland third baseman. An 18-11 victory over Crandon was highlighted by a Kim Kruchten grand slam over the fence. Can you imagine the power of this shot and what it did for the Hatchets! A split with Valley opponent DCE (5-3 loss, 21-11 win) set the table for the return of Three Lakes. The contest was a 10 inning battle going to Three Lakes by the score of 10-9. Talk about two even teams with both winning one run contests. The last game before regional action was against Valley opponent Wausau West. The Hatchets were lead by Chris Morren, 3-4 in a 14-2 victory.
So what had Tomahawk learned from their season going into the playoffs? They were ready for some outstanding playoff efforts. Tomahawk would win the opener 8-6 over Nekoosa, led by Dorrie Hanson pitching seven strong innings and who hit a bases clearing three run double for a lead that Tomahawk would never relinquish. The regional title game would be against Wittenberg Birnamwood holding a 16-2 record. What an exciting game this proved to be, with Tomahawk leading 4-3 in the top of the 7th. Wittenberg-Birnamwood loaded the bases with one out, the next batter popped out to second base and the final out going on a grounder to Leslie DeBels playing a hot short stop position.
Sectional action saw Tomahawk facing Cadott. Cadott thinking win, chose to not pitch their number one pitcher, Sally Peters, saving her for a tougher opponent in the second sectional game. This ended up a coaching miscue that Tomahawk took advantage of. The Hatchets leading 7-1 in the second inning, forced Cadott's hand to bring in Peters with two out. She struck out 10 of the next 17 Hatchet batters she would face, but the damage was done as the Hatchets ended an exciting 7-4 win. The sectional final game saw Tomahawk defeat Ellsworth 8-3, scoring five runs in the 6th inning for the sectional title. The early season close games had indeed been beneficial to the team. On to state!!!
The first opponent state was North Fond du Lac. North Fond du Lac was led by their ace, Lisa Bruss, coming into the game with a 10-0 record and a 1.25 ERA in 12 games. This would be an 8 inning barn burner that saw Carmen Schoone score the lead run in the top of the 8th. A noted highlight of this thrilling 8-7 win would be Nancy Van Strydonk grabbing a liner for one out, stepping on first for the second out and throwing to second base for the elusive triple play.
The state final against Denmark saw Tomahawk fight hard but lose a 17-6 contest. Not bad at all for a team that brought an 8-6 record into the playoffs and even more importantly the confidence that they could compete. Nice job ladies and thanks for some great memories!