They may have taken the tough road to do it, but the Greenfield Hustlin' Hawks claimed another Woodland Conference softball championship last week.
The Hawks immediately put themselves into a hole with a loss to rival Whitnall in the second game of the Woodland season, but they kept battling back and finally caught the Falcons by beating them, 4-2, on May 12.
Greenfield then swept its three games last week, and with help from South Milwaukee, took home its second straight Woodland crown.
'This is a very satisfying accomplishment, since we've been looking up at first place for almost two months,' coach Jack Miller said. 'The kids persevered, believed in their abilities, refused to be denied and just kept on winning to seize the championship.'
Greenfield put together 14 straight Woodland victories to post a 15-1 record, one game ahead of Whitnall at 14-2.
Add to trophy case
The Hawks (22-3 overall) took the school's 10th conference championship since 1995. They also went back-to-back in 1999-2000 and captured four straight from 2007-10.
Both Greenfield and Whitnall were 14-1 in the conference going into tough games against third-place South Milwaukee (11-5 in the Woodland) last week.
'South Milwaukee has a lot of talent,' Miller said, 'and Maddie Veres is a good pitcher. This game was going to be a challenge, no doubt.'
The race ultimately came down to the fact that the Hawks were able to beat the Rockets, 4-0, on May 19 in their Woodland finale, and the Falcons fell to South Milwaukee, 2-1, one day later.
Bella Matthias pitched a two-hitter with 13 strikeouts and two walks against the Rockets. She finished the regular season with a 16-2 record and 0.72 earned-run average, plus 254 strikeouts and 20 walks.
'Bella has been outstanding all season,' Miller said. 'Once we get a couple of runs, it's tough for the other team to score multiple times.'
Hawks take early lead
Greenfield took the lead against South Milwaukee with a run in the bottom of the second inning. Maria Montemayor singled, Lexi Vilkoski was hit by a pitch and Montemayor was driven in by Matthias' single to center field.
In the third inning, Kaylan Biersack walked and came home on a double from Olivia Kelly. Montemayor then singled in Kelly for a 3-0 advantage.
Greenfield made it 4-0 in the sixth when Matthias and Taylor Johnson both singled and Biersack singled to plate Matthias.
Biersack and Montemayor both went 2-for-3 with a run batted in and Matthias 2-for-4 with an RBI. Hannah Ruffert also had two hits for the Hawks, who collected 11 hits off Veres.
The next afternoon, that same Veres shut down Whitnall to give Greenfield its outright title.
The Hawks also drubbed Brown Deer, 17-0, on May 17 and Shorewood, 13-3, on May 16.
Biersack went 5-for-5 with three RBIs against Brown Deer, and Hayley Hoedel and Amanda Polachek each had three hits. Montemayor had two hits and two RBIs and Johnson two hits.
Alyssa Vilkoski and Paige Kowalewski combined for a no-hitter with nine strikeouts in five innings. Vilkoski went 6-1 this season with an 0.98 ERA.
Against Shorewood, Alyssa Vilkoski collected two home runs and three RBIs, Ruffert two hits, including a home run, and three RBIs; and Johnson, Matthias and Biersack each two hits. Alyssa Vilkoski allowed one hit, striking out 11 and walking two.
The Hawks, who are seeded first in their WIAA Division 1 sectional, will open tournament play at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 27, at Konkel Park against Franklin or Greendale. They topped Greendale, 2-0, and Franklin, 6-0, earlier this season in a game that was closer than the final score would indicate.
If they win, they would likely play Kenosha Tremper or Muskego at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, also at Konkel Park, in a sectional semifinal game.
They did not play Tremper this season, but they did take on Muskego in the Germantown Tournament and barely won, 6-5. The Warriors (14-8) had the winning run on third base in a 5-5 game in the late innings before Greenfield prevailed.
'This sectional is so even, from one through nine,' Miller said. 'This will be tough.'