Coach Jack Miller was trying to be a cheerleader for his Greenfield softball team, but he ended up a prophet as well.
Miller had a few words for the Hustlin' Hawks as they went to the bottom of the seventh inning trailing Greendale, 2-0, in a WIAA Division 1 regional championship game on May 27 at Konkel Park.
'I told the girls to keep their spirits up and that they would remember this comeback for the rest of their lives,' Miller recalled.
The Hawks then went out and manufactured just the type of rally Miller had forecast, scoring three times to pull out a thrilling 3-2 victory and claim the regional crown.
Vilkoski hits home run
Taylor Johnson was hit by a pitch to open the inning, and then Alyssa Vilkoski stepped to the plate and belted a two-run home run over the left-centerfield fence to tie the game at 2-2.
'The pitch was in the middle, and I just swung,' Vilkoski said. 'At first, I didn't know it was out, but by the time I got to first, I knew it went over (the fence). I was excited, and I was waiting for the next few at-bats (for Greenfield) to see if they went well.'
Things did indeed go well, with Kaylan Biersack doubling off the base of the outfield fence, taking third on an error and coming home with the winning run on a wild pitch.
The victory boosted Greenfield to 23-3 and sent the Hawks to a sectional semifinal contest against Kenosha Tremper on May 31. The Trojans advanced by routing Muskego, 13-2, on May 27.
If the Hawks won, they would play for a sectional championship at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, June 2, at Konkel Park against either Oak Creek or Kenosha Bradford.
The winner then goes to the state tournament next weekend at Goodman Diamond in Madison.
The game against Greendale (13-13) had been nothing but frustrating for the Hawks until the seventh inning.
They had the bases loaded in the first inning; runners at second and third and one out in the second; runners at first and second with one out in the third; and runners at first and second with no outs in the fourth.
All told, Greenfield left nine on base in the first four innings and 11 on base through six frames.
'It was one of those games where we left so many runners on,' Miller said. 'We were hitting the ball right at people, and Greendale played a great game; the fielding was outstanding.'
Panthers score twice
The Panthers, who had only lost to Greenfield, 2-0, in the regular season, scored single runs in the first and fifth innings on singles by Sara Redlin and Kayla Justus.
Bella Matthias was nicked for seven hits but did strike out 13 and walked only one in a complete game. She was nearly outdueled by Greendale starter Allyson Caballero, who scattered eight hits with one strikeout and one walk.