MADISON — The Thorp Cardinals had their chances. A year after being one-hit in an 11-0 blowout loss to Horicon in the Division 4 WIAA State championship game, the Cardinals proved they could hang with the state’s best.
“We wanted to give ourselves a chance and I think that’s what we did,” Cardinals coach Kurt Rhyner said.
The Cardinals collected five hits against Horicon’s star pitcher Allison Tillema, scoring three runs, but ultimately one bad inning cost Thorp, who fell 7-3 in the WIAA state semifinals at Goodman Diamond in Madison on Friday morning.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” Rhyner said. “It’s one of these deals where you don’t know what to say. … You’re just super proud of them. All year long they’ve done everything I’ve asked, I’m just super, super proud.”
Thorp briefly led in the game, getting to Tillema for a pair of runs in the fifth inning. Freshman Alexa Hanson led off the bottom of the inning with a pinch-hit single through the middle of the diamond. Leadoff hitter Hailey Zurakowski beat out the throw to first for a bunt single, moving Hanson to second. The two runners advanced 60 feet on a wild pitch, before confusion ensued.
With one out, Horicon’s catcher, who had already picked off a Thorp runner earlier in the game, tried her luck again, throwing down to third base to nab Hanson. But her throw bounced off Cassidy Stroinski’s bat and into foul territory. Unsure of what to do, Hanson briefly went back to third, before turning to head home. Horicon’s third baseman quickly recovered the ball and fired home to catch Hanson.
“I didn’t know what they were going to call,” Stroinski said. “I was waiting for someone to tell me what was going on.”
Two batters later, Brittany Rosemeyer gave the Cardinals the lead with a two-run single.
The lead didn’t last long. The Marshladies scored a pair of runs on back-to-back safety squeezes that Thorp wasn’t able to record outs on. Jadin Justman cashed in a run on a sac-fly to center and Tillema singled home the final run of the inning to give Horicon a four-run lead.
“They executed very well,” Rhyner said. “They get speed on the bases … and speed kills. … There are times when you play well, and you tip your hat for what they’ve done.”
The Cardinals were never able to recover. Tillema retired the sixth inning in order and only allowed one base runner in the seventh.
“We knew they had a great pitcher, that they were going to get on base and make plays,” Stroinski said. “We just came here with the mindset that we can do it too.”
The trip to Madison marked the third state appearance for Thorp’s five graduating seniors.
“We were down here a lot over the last four years,” Stroinski said. “And every single time everyone was so excited and so supportive.”
The Cardinals will have to replace pitcher Kaitlyn Tyznik, who entered the state tournament with a 1.32 ERA in 20 games.
“She’s awesome,” Stroinski said. “She was working her butt off, she put so much time into this.”
Aside from her one hiccup in the sixth inning, Tyznik looked strong. She held the Marshladies to just two runs in the first five innings, and pitched out of a pair of bases-loaded jams almost completely unscathed.
Leadoff hitter and shortstop Hailey Zurakowski finished her Thorp career with a 1-for-3 day that included a run and a walk. Stroinski ended her tenure with a run and a walk.
“I think that group of seniors has done as much as any group before them,” Rhyner said.
Horicon 7, Thorp 3
Horicon 001 105 0 — 7 7 3
Thorp 001 020 0 — 3 5 0
WP: Allison Tillema (7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 7 BB, 7 K). LP: Kaitlyn Tyznik (7 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 6 BB, 9 K). Leading hitters — Horicon: Karissa Laabs 1-3 (2 R, RBI, BB, SB), Lauren Miller 1-2, (2 RBI, 2 R, SB). Thorp: Danielle Stroinski 2-3, (R, BB, SB), Brittany Rosemeyer 1-3 (2 RBI).
Records: Thorp 19-7.