Thorp (WQOW) — For the second straight season and third time in the last four years, the Thorp softball team punched their ticket to state in Madison.
The Cardinals came from behind this past Thursday to win the sectional final, 4-3 against Clayton Turtle/Lake in Shell Lake. This group has been battle-tested throughout their run in the postseason, and it’s been their goal from the start of the regular season to get back to Madison for another shot. They loaded up their non-conference schedule, mixed with a tough Cloverbelt-West schedule, to be ready for close games at this time of the year.
“We have prepared so hard for this. This has been our goals and dreams,” says senior infielder Cassidy Stroinski. “You don’t just accomplish it once and then be fine with that. No, you want more, and you want to go again. It’s a really awesome opportunity that we get to go again this year.”
The Cardinals non-conference schedule included state qualifiers Blair-Taylor twice, Poynette, and Pacelli, and they were also in a three-way battle for a conference title with Altoona and McDonell Central.
“Everyone’s worked really hard, and all of the games in our non-conference and our conference have been really high-level,” senior pitcher Kaitlyn Tyznik says. “So all of those little experiences throughout the season, playing high-level conference and non-conference games, has given us the moments that we might face in the state tournament.”
Thorp will take on defending state champion Horicon in the semifinals on Friday, a team that they are very familiar with. The Cardinals lost to the Marshladies 11-0 in last year’s championship game, but think that experience will help with their confidence this time around.
“Being able to get down there and be mentally tough, we didn’t play especially well. We gave them four runs without them having a hit last year,” head coach Kurt Rhyner says. “We struggled in some different areas in the game, and the kids that were part of that have taken a look at the video. I know they’ve been watching the videos from that throughout the year. I think we’re a little mentally tougher this year, and I think just knowing the environment, being mentally tougher, and just being there before is just going to help give us a little bit of an edge to calm down a bit.”
First pitch for the division four state semifinal is set for Friday at 8 a.m. at Goodman Diamond in Madison.