ASHWAUBENON — Moments after watching his team beat Ashwaubenon, Preble coach Ron Metzler said, “That’s who we are.”
He was referring to his offense, which ran away from the Jaguars for a key 7-2 Fox River Classic Conference softball win Friday at Pioneer Park.
After Ashwaubenon’s Sam Crowley smoked a home run to center field to tie the game at 2-all in the fifth inning, Preble turned the tables on Ashwaubenon by plating five runs in the sixth to remain perfect in conference play.
“I think this is really big,” Preble shortstop Kaylen Krueger said about the win. “We got down with that home run, but we came back. The pitcher (Anna Conard), she worked her butt off. It was a good team win for us.”
Preble (10-2, 7-0) scored single runs in the fourth and fifth and the way Conard was pitching that seemed like enough to win. However, with a runner on base Crowley hit a 2-run homer with two outs to tie the game.
Momentum was on the Jaguars’ side, but not for long. Preble regained control with sophomore Megan Timmers driving in two runs to start the scoring in the sixth and three more runs followed.
“It’s great,” Metzler said. “It’s big for this game but it’s big emotionally. There are so many ups and downs in softball. There’s failure, failure and failure, but you have to get up and go again, so those comebacks are the biggest. Not just for this game, but for this year for the kids.”
Krueger never lost confidence.
“I’m pretty confident in our pitching,” the sophomore said. “I’m confident if they get on base she’ll (Conard) get around it, our defense will get around it and even if they do score, we’ll come back.”
While Timmers supplied what proved to be the game-winning hit, it was the top of the order that consistently caused damage. Krueger and Conard are at the top of the order, hit the ball on a line every time and twice Conard drove in Krueger, who also plated a run.
Metzler said his team responded because it knows how to play in big games.
“These kids have been there and done that,” Metzler said. “It doesn’t mean they’re perfect, but their confidence level compared to most teams is really high. It doesn’t mean we’re going to win them all, it just means we believe we can because we have so many times.”
“It was very important to keep our energy up, keep our hits going,” Krueger said. “We can’t get down on games like that or they’ll stomp all over us.”
Preble, which won the FRCC last year with a 15-1 mark, is on pace to repeat as conference champs, but Metzler said in his team huddle nothing has been won. That’s true, but the Hornets continue to sting the competition.
“We have only two goals, win your league and go to state,” Metzler said. “If you win, it’s a great reminder how tough it can be. If you lose, it’s a reminder of tough it can be.”
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay