She flirted with perfection, then she flirted with disaster.
By the end of Friday’s WIAA Division 3 state softball semifinal, Poynette senior pitcher Mattie Bredeson was deeply in love — with the idea of playing one more game.
The Pumas’ defense backed up Bredeson, and the offense provided just enough punch to lift Poynette past previously unbeaten Westfield 4-3 in an 11-inning thriller at Goodman Diamond.
“My team, they picked me up,” said Bredeson, who pitched all 11 innings, giving up four hits and two walks while striking out six.
The Poynette defense recorded 27 putouts and committed only one error, on a tough play at first.
“I wouldn’t be here without this team that I have behind me. They stopped so many grounders (and) they picked me up in the 11th inning,” Bredeson said.
As a result, Bredeson will get one more chance to pitch when the Pumas (23-1, with a 23-game winning streak) take on Tomahawk (16-7) in the championship game at 1 p.m. today.
Bredeson had Westfield (18-1) baffled early on, retiring the first 14 batters she faced before junior left fielder McKenna Dillman reached on a bunt in the bottom of the fifth.
But the tide turned in the sixth, when Poynette’s 3-0 lead vanished on one swing of senior shortstop Mirra Vogel’s bat.
First, sophomore right fielder Abby Weishaar reached on Poynette’s only error of the game. Sophomore catcher Taylor Bignell drew a one-out walk, and a sacrifice bunt moved up the runners with two outs.
And then the right-handed Vogel pounded a two-strike pitch over the fence in right-center field to tie the game.
“(While coming to the plate) I looked up in the stands and I saw my Dad, and he smiled at me, and I knew everything would be all right,” Vogel said. “And I looked at the pitcher and said ‘Bring it on, I’m ready for you.’ ”
“It was an outside drop ball and she took it, she took it right over the fence,” Bredeson said.
“Probably the best hit I’ve ever had in my life,” Vogel said.
Both Bredeson and steady Westfield pitcher Hannah Hockerman settled down until the 11th. Hockerman retired the first two Poynette batters in the top of the inning, but senior second baseman Brianna Kowald reached on her third bunt single of the day.
Sophomore shortstop Casey Fountain then fouled off four pitches with two strikes before popping a single to short center field — and Kowald, who had been running with every pitch, took third.
“Fountain had a seven- or eight-pitch at-bat and we had (Kowald) stealing on every pitch, so she had to do a lot of running back and forth,” Poynette coach Bob Tomlinson said.
With Kowald on third, though, Tomlinson — who has 39 years of experience as Poynette’s coach — sniffed out what might happen next.
“Pitchers pitch differently in tight ballgames when there’s a runner on third base,” he said. “I just told Kowald, ‘This one could go back to the screen.’ ”
Sure enough, it did — and Kowald was able to score the go-ahead run with ease.
“Mr. T called it before the play. He said ‘If that happens, you’re going,’ ” Kowald said. “My job is to get on base and to run, and I love to do it.”
Kowald scored Poynette’s first run on a safety squeeze bunt by junior third baseman Ashley Hellenbrand in the first. Sophomore right fielder Molly Anderson singled and scored from second on a foul out to right field by sophomore DH Brianna Schulz in the second.
In the fourth, Hellenbrand walked, stole second and scored on a two-out single to center by sophomore left fielder Lizzie Schwenn.
Westfield sophomore catcher Taylor Bignell doubled to the base of the fence in right-center in the bottom of the 11th, but was left stranded.
Hockerman gave up seven hits and two walks and struck out 12.
Poynette will play in its eighth state final, seeking what would be its fourth championship.
“Two years ago, we got run-ruled here (by Grantsburg),” Bredeson said. “I wasn’t going to go into this game thinking like that.”
Poynette 110 100 000 01 — 4 7 1
Westfield 000 003 000 00 — 3 4 1
POYNETTE (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kowald 2b 5-2-3-0; Fountain ss 4-0-1-0; Bredeson p 4-0-0-0; Genz pr 0-0-0-0; Hellenbrand 3b 3-1-0-1; Anderson rf 4-1-1-0; Schwenn lf 3-0-1-1; Schulz dp 3-0-0-1; Gest pr 0-0-0-0; Blochwitz cf 1-0-0-0; Cuff ph 1-0-0-0; Millard ph 1-0-0-0; Kitson ph 1-0-0-0; Sorge 1b 4-0-1-0. Totals 34-4-7-3.
WESTFIELD — Bignell c 4-1-1-0; Gardner cf 4-0-0-0; Vogel ss 4-1-1-3; Hockerman p 5-0-1-0; Huff pr 0-0-0-0; Reetz 2b 4-0-0-0; Dillman lf 4-0-1-0; Gammeter dp 4-0-0-0; Weishaar rf 4-1-0-0; Claesges 3b 4-0-0-0; Reichhoff 1b 0-0-0-0. Totals 37-3-4-3.
Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — P: Bredeson (W; 11-4-0-2-6); W: Hockerman (L, 11-7-4-2-12).
2B — Sorge; Bignell. HR — Vogel. SAC — Fountain, Hellenbrand, Schwenn; Gardner. SF — Schulz. SB — Genz, Hellenbrand; Weishaar. CS — Kowald (by Bignell). E — Sorge; Reetz. DP — W 1. LOB — P 3; W 4. WP — Hockerman.