KAUKAUNA — Ever since a season-opening loss to Appleton North, the Kaukauna softball team has been knocking off every team in its path, but Tuesday that one team that beat the Ghosts to start the season was visiting Bayorgeon Park.
The Lightning, smarting after being swept in a doubleheader by Kimberly on Monday, was looking to get back on the right track and this game played out almost exactly the way the teams’ first meeting did when North won, 1-0.
The only difference this time, Kaukauna won, 1-0, on a sixth-inning home run by Andrea Gocker that stretched the Ghosts’ winning streak to 13 games.
“It was inside and got it off the handle, so I didn’t think it was gone at all, but it was pretty sweet that it was,” Gocker said. “(Appleton North pitcher Maddie Boyd) likes to jam inside and she likes to throw the rise. I just went up in the box and try to hit it before it rose much.”
Gocker’s homer came three days after Kaukauna beat Stevens Point, 1-0, when Gocker also homered late in the game.
“When Dre’s at the plate it is one swing,” Kaukauna coach Tim Roehrig said. “Dre changes the game with one swing of the bat. That’s what she did. She did it at Point the other day. She’s really been swinging the stick well. She’s a game-changer with the swing of the bat.”
That’s all pitcher Haley Hestekin would need. The Kaukauna freshman was brilliant, striking out 12 while allowing two hits. It’s not uncommon for Kaukauna to have a quality pitcher and this year is no different as Hestekin’s fastball tops 60 miles per hour.
“Hest is unique,” Roehrig said. “We knew this coming in. Hesty’s just a competitor. She has a unique skill set. There’s not many freshmen that can come in and do what she’s done in the state of Wisconsin.”
Hestekin’s outing masked what Boyd did. A day after struggling against Kimberly, the Valparaiso recruit bottled up Kaukauna, save for one pitch, with 10 strikeouts and three hits allowed.
“She came back like the competitor she is and was the old Maddie Boyd,” North coach Mike Mullen said. “She was tough. That’s what we expected from her.”
Roehrig thought his team maybe could have reached Boyd earlier for runs, but mistakes, including a runner being thrown out after over running second base, made it more difficult.
“We didn’t execute all the time,” he said. “It’s going to come down to execution. We have to improve on that.”
The win keeps Kaukauna (13-1, 8-1) tied with Kimberly (12-1, 9-1) in the loss column in the FVA and these teams meet Friday. Kaukauna handed Kimberly its only loss of the season, 2-1. Gocker said it was big to stay even with the Papermakers.
“We go into every game 0-0,” Gocker said. “It’s pretty exciting to win.”
“Appleton North’s a good team,” Roehrig said. “It’s a big win.”