A surprise run to the state tournament ended one win short of a championship for the Blair-Taylor softball team.
After taking a 3-0 lead after three innings, the Wildcats (24-4) fell 8-3 to Chippewa Falls-McDonell Central in the WIAA Division 5 Championship on Saturday.
Blair-Taylor settles for silver in its first-ever appearance at the state tournament.
"I thought the girls were doing good, but as the game kept going I think the youth of that team finally started to show itself," head coach Greg Bratina said. "I think they kind of realized what was happening, and they started to play a little bit tighter, a little bit tighter, and unfortunately, when you've got to have your worst game defensively, not where you want it. But hey, we took second, we've got something to be proud of and I'm proud of these girls no matter what."
After pounding out 13 hits in a 11-0 win over Wausaukee on Thursday in the semifinals, the Wildcats took an early lead on a Lauren Steien 2-run double in the opening inning. Blair-Taylor added another run in the third inning on a bases-loaded walk by Danyelle Waldera to make it 3-0.
The turning point came in the fourth. McDonell Central (22-4) scored two unearned runs on four Wildcats errors to close within 3-2.
In the sixth, a pair of errors allowed the Macks to tie the game 3-3 before Abby Opsal delivered the go-ahead 2-run single to make it 5-3. Blair-Taylor had eight errors in the game, and was unable to close the gap any further.
McDonell Central added three more runs in the seventh for the game's final runs.
Despite the loss, Blair-Taylor finished with a school record 24 wins and will return its entire lineup next season.
"I thought I had a good team, maybe something special, we kind of saw that when we beat C-FC," Bratina said. "Then I just knew, this team's got something, they've got some moxie, they have it. And I told the girls that, I said we've got something special going on here girls. Let's just keep it going and boy did they ever. It's just unbelievable, it really is."