Kimberly opens the state softball tournament Thursday against Stevens Point. (Doug Ritchay/WLUK)
KIMBERLY If you're looking for a team of destiny in the Division 1 state softball tournament look no further than Kimberly.The Papermakers were one out away from losing in a regional final before getting clutch hits from two of its best players and then in a sectional final Kimberly paid back top-ranked Kaukauna from being swept during the postseason.Yes, the Papermakers have faced adversity and didn't flinch which is why they have returned to the state tournament at Goodman Diamond in Madison for the first time since 2007. Kimberly (24-3) opens play Thursday in a quarterfinal against Stevens Point (24-5)."It's going to be a really fun time to go there but we know that once we step onto that field it's going to be a serious game," junior third baseman Jenna Smarzinski said. "Stevens Point is a great team as well and they're going to be there to beat us, so we have to bring our 'A' game."Kimberly has had its "A" game most of the season as their record would indicate. The Papermakers are led by Smarzinski, who might be the best non-pitcher in the area, and speaking of pitchers, Kimberly has Oregon recruit Megan Kleist, who is also a junior and may be the best pitcher in the area.A year ago Kimberly almost reached the state tournament, but fell to Oshkosh West in extra innings in a sectional final. This year's team remembers."After last year, losing in the sectional finals, it was a goal of ours to get back to the sectional final and put a better foot forward and win that game and get to state," coach Bill Weyers said. "That's what's been on the minds of these girls since we started this tournament."First baseman Dani Dobinski believes this year's team is stronger after what it endured last season and also what is has experienced this postseason."We've been through a lot, like even last year we lost in the sectional finals," Dobinski said. "I think all those experiences of being at those big games where like every pitch matters a lot, I think helps us."Every team has at least 20 wins in the Division 1 field, so whichever team ends up hoisting the gold ball on Saturday evening will have earned it. Kimberly believes it can be that team."I feel like if we go in confident and bring in all that energy like we usually bring we'll be just fine," Dobinski said.Smarzinski was part of the girls basketball team that lost in a state semifinal, so when asked about the chance to win a state softball title, she smiles widely."That'd be great," she said. "That would be the best feeling to actually bring home a gold ball."2014 State Softball Tournament ScheduleGoodman Diamond, MadisonThursday - Saturday, June 12-14, 2014DIVISION 1Quarterfinals: ThursdayGame-1: Westosha Central (25-3) vs. Racine Case (21-3) - 9 a.m.Game-2: Hortonville (22-4) vs. Verona (22-2) - approx. 11 a.m.Game-3: Stevens Point (24-5) vs. Kimberly (24-3) - 1:30 p.m.Game-4: Menomonee Falls (24-4) vs. Germantown (20-8) - approx. 3:30 p.m.Semifinals: FridayGame-5: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - 6 p.m.Game-6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 (approx. 8 p.m.)Championship Game: SaturdayGame-7: Semifinal Winner Game 1 vs. Semifinal Winner Game 2 - 5:35 p.m. DIVISION 2 Semifinals: ThursdayGame-1: New London (18-5) vs. New Berlin Eisenhower (22-7) - 6 p.m.Game-2: Mosinee (26-2) vs. McFarland (24-2) - approx. 8 p.m.Championship Game: SaturdayGame-3: Semifinal Winner Game 1 vs. Semifinal Winner Game 2 - 3:05 p.m.DIVISION 3 Semifinals: FridayGame-1: Laconia (20-4) vs. Mishicot (16-8) - 1:30 p.m.Game-2: Grantsburg (20-3) vs. Arcadia (28-0) - approx. 3:30 p.m.)Championship Game: SaturdayGame-3: Semifinal Winner Game 1 vs. Semifinal Winner Game 2 - 12:35 p.m.DIVISION 4 Semifinals: FridayGame-1: Assumption (18-6) vs. Oakfield (19-2) - 9 a.m.Game-2: Cochrane-Fountain City (21-2) vs. Ithaca (20-1) - approx. 11 a.m. Championship Game: Saturday Game-3: Semifinal Winner Game 1 vs. Semifinal Winner Game 2 -10:05 a.m.Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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