MADISON -- If there was any indication the breaks were not going to go Plymouth's softball team's way Thursday night, it happened during the first batter of the game.
Panthers leadoff hitter Sophia Kiela hit a rocket back up the middle, which deflected off of Monroe pitcher Becca Armstrong right to shortstop Ellie Grossen, who fired to first for the out.
"We had four or five of those little breaks and they've all gone against us," Plymouth coach Gale Grahn said following his team's 5-1 loss to the Cheesemakers in a WIAA Division 2 state semifinal at Goodman Diamond. "Just little things, little things that didn't quite go our way."
Little things like a ball landing just inches from the foul line, or a potential rally suddenly ending after Sara Thompson was out after being hit by a line drive off the bat of teammate Kaitlyn Krzyzaniak in the sixth inning with Plymouth trailing by three.
"Sometimes you're lucky, sometimes you're not," Kiela said. "That's the way this sport goes."
Despite the poor luck, the Panthers (22-7) did their best to try and rally late, scratching out three hits in the final two innings.
"They kept battling back," Grahn said. "They never said die. I'm proud of them for that."
Down 1-0 in the top of the third, Plymouth tied the game after Kiela drove a triple to right-center and Marissa Grapentine laid down a squeeze bunt.
"Coming into this I was hitting really well in cage in practice," said Kiela. "Then I came in and I had confidence and I ripped a first shot up the middle. It was unlucky but then got the triple after that."
The Cheesemakers (22-7) would tack on single runs in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to slowly put the Panthers away.
"They're a solid team," Grahn said. "They're as solid a hitting team as we've faced all year."
Kiela finished 2-for-4 to lead the Panthers offensively and sophomore pitcher Rachel Romps struck out five on the mound.
Plymouth's run to State was unexpected, but it will certainly be remembered. The Panthers knocked off three No. 1 seeds -- Waupun, Mayville and Cudahy -- to get to Madison.
"We've had a heck of a run here," said Grahn. "Getting down here to play on the big stage, I don't think a lot of people were figuring that back in March. It's been an awesome feeling the last couple of weeks."
"It's been a crazy ride," Kiela said. "Beginning of the season we had a couple of rough games, no one really expected us to get too far. Midseason we tightened it up a little bit, pitching was great, defense was awesome, we were hitting really well. Carried it through and continued winning and it brought us here."