Comets make first trip to championship, pitcher sets tournament record

By Kevin Cunningham

Correspondent

The Delavan-Darien High School softball team was two wins away from a state title last week, kicking off play against Northwestern on June 9 at Goodman Diamond in Madison.

Delavan-Darien was 24-6 on the season heading into the semifinal while Northwestern entered at 24-4 overall.

The two teams have gotten their way more often than not, but the weather decided to take over late in the game. Not only did the weather eventually control the game that day after seven and a half innings were completed, pushing the conclusion of the contest into the next morning, but the pitchers dictated the tempo as well.

Northwestern’s Cheyenne Johnson pitched all nine innings in the game and the Comets’ Jennah Speth pitched all nine as well, eventually striking out 22 batters in the game. The two pitchers held the opposing offenses scoreless through the first seven and a half innings.

The game was delayed late Friday night because of weather and picked up again at 11 a.m. Saturday at Waunakee High School. Only another two innings were played on Saturday before the Comets finally capitalized and won, 1-0.

After Speth got to second base on a dropped pop-up, Morgyn DeLara came up next and hit a single, scoring the game’s lone run and advancing the Comets to the state title game. Both teams recorded two hits apiece over nine innings of play.

The next day, back on Goodman Diamond, the team faced New Berlin West, which entered with a 25-5 record. Comets head coach Hank Johnson said Speth was determined to get the team to the state championship game, and after her 22-strikeout performance, held New Berlin West scoreless for the first two innings.

In the third, the opposition got two runs on the board and held a 2-0 lead for the first four innings of the game. The Comets needed its offense to get going and in the fifth inning, scored a run off a Shelby Gramly single.

Over the next two innings, the Comets needed just one run to extend its chance at winning the title, but couldn’t come through, ending the team’s season in a 2-1 defeat. The team outhit New Berlin West in the final, 5-4.

“The girls were down, however, it was a great season,” Johnson said. “We made it to the game they had been talking about for many years. They created a lot of memories that they will have for the rest of their lives.

“Plus, every time they walk in to that school now, they get to see an awesome trophy that they earned. I told them to be proud of what they had done because the school and community were (proud) of them.”

Johnson said the one thing he will remember about this year’s group 20 years from now was the team’s playoff run.

“Each game, someone stepped up to help us win,” Johnson said. “Having the first three games at home in the playoffs. Going up to McFarland and finally beating them to make it to state. Being the only Division 2 team to play all three days up at state because of delays. The bus and van rides. Graduation on the field at Waunakee.

“Stepping onto Goodman Diamond with this amazing team and knowing that all their hard work had finally paid off. Jennah Speth’s 22-strikeout game and 34 for the tournament were both state tournament records. Leaving Goodman on Saturday knowing that the girls left it all on the field and that they should be proud of everything they had done for themselves, the program, the school and the community. (I’m) proud to be a Comet.”

 
 

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