West Allis - After just one inning of a showdown with Greater Metro Conference leader Menomonee Falls on May 17, the West Allis Hale softball team found itself behind 2-0.
To make matters worse, the Huskies were down not just on the scoreboard but emotionally as well.
"After the first inning, the girls came in and looked like they had already lost the game," head coach Kay Nichols said. "I just kept reminding them that there is a lot of game left."
As it turned out, things got worse for Hale in the next few innings. The Huskies had no base runners in the first three innings off Nikki Festge, who had shut them out earlier this season, and they trailed 7-1 after four innings.
Offense comes alive
That's when the Huskies finally flipped the switch on their powerful offense. Rachel Seefeldt belted a grand slam to key a five-run fifth inning and Sarah Mueller ripped a three-run blast in the seventh to enable the Huskies to pull out the game, 9-8.
"(I told the girls) we need to put the ball in play and put Falls on the defensive," Nichols said. "When our bats are on, I believe we can win any game."
The victory boosted Hale to 9-3 in the GMC, in second place behind Falls (12-2). The Indians have completed their conference schedule and have clinched the title, but the Huskies can ensure themselves of second by winning two GMC games this week.
They met West Allis Central on May 22 and will visit Sussex Hamilton at 4:15 p.m. May 24 to close out the regular season.
Nichols was not overly concerned with the unproductive first three innings against Falls.
"Our offense has been slow to start all year," she said. "It takes us a few innings to get into our groove."
Facing the six-run deficit entering the fifth, the Huskies loaded the bases on three hits, then Seefeldt cleared them with her long grand slam.
The five-run rally trimmed the deficit to 7-6, but Falls added a run to go up by two going into the seventh.
Errors keyed comeback
The Indians opened the door for the Huskies with two errors, then Mueller stepped to the plate. She had two strikes on her when she ripped another prestigious shot to put Hale up 9-8.
Nichols said both home runs were among the longest she has seen in high school softball.
Both Seefeldt and Mueller have circled the bases plenty of times this season. Going into this week, Mueller was hitting .609 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs, while Seefeldt was at .525 with 11 homers and 37 RBIs.
In the bottom of the inning, Falls put two runners on base but Mueller pitched out of the jam to gain the victory. She allowed nine hits and struck out five in her seven innings of work.
Mueller also went 3-for-4 for the game, while Emily Navarette had two hits and drove in one run.
The Huskies also beat Sussex Hamilton, 4-1, on May 15 as Mueller allowed two hits and went 3-for-3 with a double, home run and three RBIs and Marissa Lehn had two hits and one RBI.
Hale downed Brookfield East, 4-2, on May 14 behind Seefeldt's three hits, including a triple, home run and two RBIs and Teara Morgenroth's RBI. Mueller gave up five hits and fanned six.
On Friday, the Huskies fell to Oconomowoc, 8-6. Mueller was 3-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBIs, while Seefeldt went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBIs.
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