Cooperation helped Whitefish Bay softball tourney work despite weather

Nicolet, Brown Deer also took part

May 14, 2013

The Whitefish Bay, Nicolet and Brown Deer girls softball teams are not out to beat the world.

But they do sometimes get tired of beating their heads against the glass ceiling of the elite of their sport.

That's where something like Bay's six-team invitational held Saturday comes in: The event featured six evenly-matched squads, close plays and opportunities to win where otherwise there might not be.

There was also a sense of cooperation among border rivals as Nicolet coach Brad Kuehl helped out the tournament by allowing the use of his varsity and junior varsity fields to help speed things along. He and Bay coach Jessica Middendorf had nothing but praise for the Nicolet grounds crews that helped keep things in playing condition during an occasionally misty, chilly day.

A team effort

Nicolet also used its own training staff at the games it hosted. Middendorf noted it was a real team effort making the event a success under challenging conditions.

Bay Athletic Director John Gustavson was praised for making sure all the umpires were in place and getting tournament rules and brackets out to all coaches.

"And (for also) simply being available if any issues arose during the tournament day itself," Middendorf said.

The concessions and field maintenance at the Bay site were completely run by the Blue Duke softball parents.

"In the last two years I have been head coach, I have felt very thankful to have parents that are so willing to put so much time into organizing the concessions to help raise money for our program," Middendorf said.

The field maintenance was done in a co-op effort by Bay junior varsity coach Tim Flint, father of Bay varsity's best overall hitter Amelia Flint, and his assistant, Middendorf's dad Larry Iwanski.

"As more games finished, I noticed a few other dads hopping on the field to rake and help line the field in Bay," Middendorf said. "Mary Hankerd, (mom) of Maggie, and Donna Flint, (mom) of Amelia, were both instrumental in organizing the concession food and drinks along with contacting other parents to sign up for shifts throughout the day.

"It's great to be able to have so many involved parents that want to just plain help out."

Windy conditions

Only the weather got in the way as Bay went 2-1 in the event, Nicolet 1-2 and Brown Deer 0-3.

"Aside from the wind throughout the day knocking over concession items, it seemed like the tournament was a success all around," Middendorf said with a chuckle. "By now, all softball teams in Wisconsin should be used to the lovely weather we are getting. We had a chance to play through wind, rain, sleet and sun but I'm glad we were able to get all of the games in at both sites.

"Finishing 2-1 was a nice boost for our team with so many close games this season."

That included a 1-0 loss to NSC champ Germantown on May 8 (see for details).

Included in the tourney was an 11-1 win over Nicolet thrown by Blue Duke freshman pitcher Brianna Johnson. That did not count in North Shore play but Bay did actually earn an NSC victory over the Knights on Monday with a 10-0 decision as Anna Lauko, Hallie Mellendorf and Amelia Flint all knocked in two runs apiece while Kenzie McElduff scattered four hits.

Despite the uneven 1-2 day for his team at the tournament, which also included a 21-7 win over Martin Luther and a tough 4-2 defeat at the hands of eventual tourney runner-up DSHA, Kuehl was satisfied with Nicolet's day.

"I love this event," he said. "It's chance to play close to home without a big road trip and it's a little easier for them to experience success. We are playing a little better overall (see sportswraps for details). And the DS game was an example of that as it was just a good high school softball game. They have a good freshman pitcher and we needed to come up with a couple key hits."

But they just made the plays."

Overall, he was just happy to be of assistance on Saturday.

"It was good to play some more games on our field with our maintenance staff working." Kuehl said. "They do a great job and we have a great infield that really holds water well. That's why we were able to get so many games in early (when others had games postponed)."

Jaclyn Clark and Edyn Herbert were among the Knight players who had good tournies. For Brown Deer, the tourney came at the end of a preposterously long week for the Falcons in which they went 1-8. Coach Jeff Bersch was proud of team's efforts in the face of such a relentless schedule.

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