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Prep softball: Proctor learns from earlier defeat, downs Superior

Once-beaten Rails hand Spartans first defeat to clinch LSC title.

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Superior’s Natalee Sigfrids (9) dives over to tag out Proctor’s Jaycee Lind (1) in the fifth inning of the Rails win at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
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Following his team’s first loss of the season to Greenway, Proctor softball coach Bud Joyce took a glass-is-half-full approach.

Joyce said his players could learn from the defeat and work hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

It hasn’t.

Maddy Walsh tossed a five-hitter and Proctor ended Superior’s unbeaten season with a 4-1 victory Tuesday at NBC Spartan Sports Complex, clinching the Lake Superior Conference title in the process.

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Proctor’s Maddy Walsh (7) fires a pitch in the third inning of the Rails win at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

“Like I said at the time (of the 7-5, extra-inning loss to Greenway), the loss probably helped bring them back down to earth a little bit,” Joyce said. “The kids have worked hard to get where they’re at.”

Proctor improved to 16-1 and extended its win streak to 10 heading into the homestretch of the regular season.

“We show up to practice every day and put in a lot of effort,” said junior outfielder Preslie Annala, who hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to account for the winning run. “We’ve been working really well as a team.”

Not that the Rails weren’t already doing that before playing Greenway — they were averaging nearly 10 runs per game in a 6-0 start — but refocusing on the little things has helped.

“It motivated us to come back and do better,” Annala said.

It’s hard to do better than Walsh on Tuesday. The sophomore right-hander struck out nine and walked none, going to a three-ball count only twice all game.

“All my pitches were working well and my communication with my catcher (Baylie Peterson) was key,” Walsh said.

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Walsh outdueled Superior sophomore Haley Zembo, who allowed just six hits, struck out 10 and walked none.

A pair of Spartans errors proved costly in Proctor scoring its first run in the third inning. Annala then led off the fourth with her third homer of the season.

“They had some nice hits — the home run was a big blow,” Spartans coach Mike Sather said.

The Rails tacked on two more runs in the fifth as Jaycee Lind’s single brought home Sophie Parendo and courtesy runner Lauren Johnson for a 4-0 lead.

That meant the Spartans’ unearned run in the sixth only served to derail Proctor’s seventh shutout of the season. Walsh finished by striking out the final two batters.

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Proctor’s Payton Rodberg (3) makes a throw from shortstop in the fourth inning of the Rails win at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

“She did a great job around the plate,” Joyce said. “They are pretty disciplined hitters from what I watched (Monday) against Esko. I knew she would have to be around the plate.”

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Can the Spartans (12-1) mirror what Proctor did and use their initial loss as motivation?

“Any time you lose, it’s more of a reality check,” Sather said. “You look at every little thing more closely as it runs through your mind. It can definitely help. When you win, win, win, you don’t ever look at the mistakes. It’s definitely a reality check. I’m hoping it helps us out, but we’ll see in the future. Time will tell.”

Walsh left no doubt she hopes to avenge that one loss in the upcoming Section 7AA playoffs where Greenway (16-0) stands in the way.

“It’s always good to get the first loss out of the way, and if we play (Greenway) again we’ll be ready,” Walsh said.

Proctor 4, Superior 1

WP: Maddy Walsh 7IP, 0ER, 5H, 9K, 0BB. LP: Haley Zembo 7IP, 3ER, 6H, 10K, 0BB. P: Baylie Peterson 3x4; Jaycee Lind 3RBIs; Sophie Parendo 2R; Preslie Annala HR. S: Indigo Fish 2x3l Elise DeGraef 2x3, RBI.

Related Topics: SOFTBALL
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