Knights blow away Vikings

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Jim Franz/Beloit Daily News Beloit Memorial's Ari Brown (22) forces out Stoughton's Savanna Jemilo as Brynn Swanson looks on during Tuesday's WIAA regional game at Beloit College's diamond.

BELOIT - Jacey Walker of Beloit Memorial would have preferred Wednesday's forecast to what greeted her Tuesday.

"I'd much rather have sunny and 80 degrees, but it would have been OK if the wind hadn't been blowing so hard," the junior pitching ace said. "I thought during warmups it was affecting my inside pitches. Knowing that, you just have to throw those pitches a little harder.

"It turned out I really didn't have much trouble with it."

For most of the WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal, she simply blew away the Stoughton Vikings in a 5-0 victory. She allowed only two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

The game was held at Beloit College's diamond at the Strong Stadium Complex and the fourth-seeded Purple Knights will be back Thursday to host fifth-seeded Waterford in a regional final at 4:30 p.m. Waterford beat Burlington 8-3 Tuesday.

Of the three diamonds Walker and the Purple Knights have called home, this is clearly the best.

"Our home field used to be Krueger (Park) and then we moved to the (YMCA) Complex and now we're here," Walker said. "We don't really have a home field. But we did get to practice here yesterday and it's nice."

The Knights sure seemed right at home, taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning and tacking on four more in the fourth.

Ari Brown reached on an infield single to open the second, taking second base on a throwing error. She moved up to third on a groundout and scored on Miranda Mechanic's groundout to the right side.

Brynn Swanson and Brown hit back-to-back singles to open the fourth. An out later, Mechanic singled to load the bases. Kylie Evans went down 0-2 in the count quickly, but then roped a two-run single to center.

"I just told (Kylie) to settle down and go with her pitch," Beloit head coach Jen Pozzani said. "She's a great hitter and she's done it for us before this season."

Mandi Franks walked and with two outs, Natalie Bittner drilled a two-run single to center.

"It's hard to hit in these conditions," Pozzani said. "She had one die in the wind earlier in the game. But she delivered big in that inning."

Walker had a tense moment in the sixth when the Vikings loaded the bases with no outs on a hit batsman, a walk and an error. The Vikings committed a base-running mistake when they failed to tag up on score on a flyout to right. Walker made it hurt by getting out of the jam with a strikeout and a flyout.

The wind really was never an issue for the Knights or Walker.

"Jacey throws hard and she just battled through it," Pozzani said. "She's pitched plenty of games to know how to adjust. That's what we told our fielders, too. We're always concerned about circumstances and how they impact the game. With the wind, you had to really focus and bear down."

The Knights finished with seven hits for their five tallies and that was plenty for Walker.

"Our defense was really good today and we hit well," she said. "We were ready."

• LINESCORE: Beloit Memorial 5, Stoughton 0

Stoughton.....000 000 0 - 0 2 1

Beloit Memorial..010 400 x - 5 7 1

WP - Walker. LP - Hammersley.

Leading hitters: BM, Brown 2x2; Bittner 1x3, 2 RBI, Swanson 1x3, Mechanic 1x3, 1 RBI; Evans 1x3, 2 RBI, Frank 1x2. 2B - Hammersley.

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