FREEDOM, Wis. (WBAY) - The New London softball team is headed back to the WIAA Sectional Finals for the fifth straight season. It took nine innings but New London (21-5) defeated Freedom (21-4), 3-2.
But a controversial call almost kept them from advancing. Freedom senior Lori Meyer hit a home run in the first inning and the Irish would take the 1-0 lead all the way to the top of the seventh.
New London freshman Lauren Winkler hit a deep ball to center field the first base umpire signaled a home run and Winkler celebrated with teammates at home plate. After deliberation between the home plate umpire, the first base umpire changed his call ruling it a ground-rule double with Winkler returning to second base.
Two batters later now with runners on second and third Bulldogs senior Leah Porath singled to center allowing Winkler to score but the go-ahead run was thrown out at home. Freedom was unable to score in the bottom of the inning, forcing extras.
In the top of the ninth, Porath hit a ball to left center and a throwing error allowed two runs to score to give New London a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Freedom had runners on first and second and sophomore Cali Brockman sliced it to center. Irish's junior Brooke Garrett was held up at third with senior Abby Cardew running from second to third confusing New London and causing a throwing error allowing Brockman to score to cut the lead to 3-2.
Then with one out and Brockman on third, junior Payton Dorn hit it right to New London pitcher Leah Porath who threw it to first. Freedom's Brockman was sent home and caught at the plate.
New London will face Denmark (22-7) at Winneconne on Thursday, June 1 at 5 p.m.