Last season was a year to forget for Cadott softball. After a 20-16 win over Osseo-Fairchild to open the year, they didn’t win again, finishing 1-15.

The Hornets have followed 2018 up with a big step in the right direction.

After a 7-8 regular season, the Hornets advanced past Spring Valley with a 15-0, three-inning victory in the first round of the WIAA playoffs in Cadott on Thursday afternoon.

Cadott showed some much improved plate discipline in the second inning, taking seven walks in a seven-run frame.

“We’ve been practicing patience, patience, patience,” senior Maddie Wahl said. “That’s been kicking our butts the last few games.”

Brooke Bremness opened the inning with a single before the Cardinals allowed four consecutive walks. The Hornets had a bat-around inning that ended with a high pop out to Cardinals catcher Quinn Anderson.

On the mound, freshman Mackenna Barone was dominant. She allowed just one hit and one walk over the three shutout innings.

Her performance in the circle this season has been a big difference for the Hornets according to head softball coach Kari Moldrem.

“Our pitcher threw really well today and we made some nice plays behind her,” Moldrem said.

The Hornets looked strong in the field, converting all but one hit ball into outs. Catcher Meadow Barone threw a laser to nab Kenzie White when she tried to swipe second after her third-inning single.

“Meadow has gotten stronger behind the plate,” Moldren said. “She throws runners out from her knees now.”

Both Wahl and senior Megan Fasbender said the team is more tight-knit than last year.

“The way our team interacts, it’s like a family on the field,” Fasbender said. “Last year it just kind of felt like individuals. We weren’t really clicking. This year we have some many great girls. It’s an awesome softball family.”

Wahl said she thinks the group is communicating better than it was last year, and it’s led to the team’s much improved defense.

Fasbender and Wahl are the only graduating seniors for Cadott. While their departures at the end of the year will be missed, the team’s 12 underclassmen have taken big strides.

“After having a year of practice and getting used to it, we’re starting to really build up the team again,” Wahl said.

The loss marked the end of the season for Spring Valley. The Cardinals ended the year winless, but head coach Ron Cipriano said he was proud of the way his team grew over the season.

“I think I’ve got a great group of underclassmen coming back next year,” Cipriano said. “We’re just going to focus on that…. I think it will be a better year.”

Cadott has a few days off before it returns to action on Tuesday to take on Dunn-St. Croix champion Glenwood City. The Hilltoppers went 18-2 this year.

“If we play like we did tonight… it’s going to be a good match,” Moldrem said.

Cadott 15, Spring Valley 0 (3 Inn)

Spring Valley 000 — 0 1 1

Cadott 078 — 15 7 0

WP: Makenna Barone (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). LP: Brenna Schreiber (1.1 IP, 13 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 6 BB, 2 K). Leading hitters — Cadott: Calli Bremness 1-3, (2B, RBI, BB, R), Jen Sonnetag 2-2 (2 R, RBI), Makenna Barone 0-0, (2 R), Olivia Goodman 1-1, (2 R).

Records: Spring Valley 0-17; Cadott 8-8.