Team makes school history
By Jason Arndt
The Waterford Union High School softball team entered its season with a simple motto: “All In.”
And the Wolverines have seemingly followed through.
After cruising through a regional opener, the Wolverines carried positive vibes in the WIAA Division 1 tournament, which included a 21-inning victory over Janesville Parker followed by defeat of Elkhorn in the sectional semifinal.
On June 1 in Oregon, with the Wolverines’ season on the line in a WIAA Division 1 sectional final against Kettle Moraine, the team continued to follow its mantra with a 4-0 shutout victory over the Lasers behind a no-hitter from freshman standout Jaydin Kiser.
With the victory, Waterford punched a ticket to the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament for the first time in program history, and began its state tournament run Thursday at Goodman Diamond in Madison.
No. 3-seeded Waterford, which improved to 19-6 with the win over No. 4 Kettle Moraine, earned the eighth seed at the state tournament.
The Wolverines played a quarterfinal match against No. 1 Kaukauna (27-0).
Kiser sparkles in sectional
Kiser, who struck out 13 hitters and walked five, tossed all seven innings for the complete game no-hitter.
Senior Kyra Schuerman, meanwhile, said Kiser and her teammates showed remarkable composure on the field with the sectional championship at stake.
“I just had this feeling when we came into it. Nobody looked nervous. It was a really good bus ride and it was just a really good day,” said Schuerman, who has spent most of the season in the dugout because of injury.
“Jaydin does an amazing job. She never looks tired, she never looks nervous, and just goes out there with confidence.”
While Kiser kept the Lasers scoreless, junior Ella Greil offered all the offensive support the freshman needed, belting a three-run home run in the bottom of the second inning to pull Waterford ahead 3-0.
Schuerman said Greil’s home run allowed her and others to relax.
“It solidified the game for me,” Schuerman said. “I had no nerves, I was like ‘Okay, we are good.’”
Kiser, described as humble by her teammates, said she was playing for her teammates, the school and her family during the sectional championship.
“It feels amazing to make school history, especially as a freshman,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and my parents.”
During regular season play, the Wolverines defeated Kettle Moraine 4-1 in a non-conference meeting, with Greil taking notes on Lasers’ pitcher Carmen Follette.
Greil, who hit a triple off Follette in the first meeting, immediately pounced at the first pitch.
“It was the first pitch and it just came in perfectly,” she said. “It felt amazing to be able to help the team out.”
For Kiser, she found Greil’s home run a tremendous relief.
“I was so happy because she brought everyone everyone’s energy up,” Kiser said.
While the Wolverines edged Kettle Moraine earlier in the season, senior Madison Krueger said she and others did not plan on taking the Lasers lightly, especially when the contest carried state tournament implications.
“Going into the game, I told the girls, ‘Yes, we beat them, but that means nothing, we still have go in and play our hardest,” Krueger said.
Senior Sadie Evjen (1-for-3), Madison Krueger (1-for-2, double, run), Sam Talavera (1-for-3, double, run), Savanna Denman (1-for-3, RBI), Kayla Holmes (1-for-3), and Jenna Bjorge (1-for-3) reinforced the Wolverines’ offense.
Madison Krueger, along with Evjen and Schuerman, all joined the team three years ago.
Winning the sectional title, Madison Krueger said, held a special meaning for the seniors on the squad.
“It is really awesome to be able to say that in our senior year that we get to go the state tournament and we never, as a school, have done this before,” said Madison Krueger. “I am really proud of our team as a whole. We worked together. Everyone steps up when needed. We are just one big family and we all just love each other. It is a fun team we have.”
For Evjen, she called the experience unreal, considering it wasn’t exactly what she imagined as a freshman.
“It is unbelievable. I didn’t think we’d come this far,” she said.
But she said the post-season vibe kept the team moving forward.
“Everybody on our team was up, we were all excited and had positive energy,” Evjen said. “Everybody was well-rested and we came out strong.”
Evjen and Madison Krueger, like Schuerman, praised Kiser’s performance as a freshman.
“Kiser may get down on herself and maybe struggle in an inning, but she always comes back,” Evjen said.
“Jaydin is so humble and such an amazing member of our team,” Madison Krueger said.
Wolverines’ coach Ryan Krueger said the team came into postseason play prepared.
The Wolverines, who played against prolific pitchers in the SLC, used the experience as a stepping stone for the playoffs.
“When you look at most of the teams in conference, they have top-tier pitchers,” Ryan Krueger said. “It prepared us for the end goal and that is state.”
Ryan Krueger, similar to Kiser’s teammates, couldn’t say enough about the freshman pitcher.
“She has done what every kid on our team has done, worked hard and played hard,” said Ryan Krueger, who called a brief timeout in the bottom of the seventh inning against Kettle Moraine.
“Jaydin ended up walking a kid in the eighth spot, and I walked up to her and let her take a moment,” said Ryan Krueger.
In addition to competitive schedule, work ethic also helped the Wolverines’ cause, with multiple players putting in off-season conditioning.
“They work all summer long, they work all winter long in order to be ready for spring,” he said. “They play for each other.”