Manley's two home runs lead Whiteford to D-4 Final for first time since 1994
East Lansing – Going into Friday’s Division 4 semifinal, Erin Manley was admittedly in a bit of a slump over Ottawa Lake Whiteford’s previous couple of playoff games.
But on Friday afternoon, Manley broke out in a big way.
One of two seniors on Whiteford’s team, Manley connected for two home runs and collected four RBI to lead the Bobcats to a 6-1 win over Coleman to advance to the Division 4 final for the first time since 1994.
In the Division 4 Final, Whiteford (33-6) will face Indian River Inland Lakes at Michigan State’s Secchia Stadium at 3:00pm on Saturday afternoon.
“The past couple of games haven’t been so good, but my teammates have just been pumping me up and everybody’s so excited,” Manley said. “They told me to get a base hit and that’s what I tried to do.”
Whiteford wasted little time getting going as a leadoff triple from Karsyn Berns-Moore and a bunt single by Baylee Baldwin set up a 3-run home run by Manley to give the Bobcats a 3-1 lead after one inning.
Manley said that getting out to an early lead in the first inning was key for her team and added that being the visiting team and the first at bats of a game is something that herself and her teammates having the opportunity to do.
“That’s why we like being the visitors, because when we’re getting off early, it really shuts the other team down,” she said. “So it was really big to get the first runs and a couple more and I think that’s what really pushed us to keep going.”
Whiteford head coach Kris Hubbard said that after Manley’s recent struggles, she spent the past couple of days working on building up her senior center fielder’s confidence heading into Friday’s game.
“She struggled a little bit,” she said. “With kids, it’s making them think they’re good, so we spent two days making her think she’s good and guess what? She is.”
While Coleman (35-7) would get a run back in the bottom half of the second inning on an RBI infield single by Brianna Townsend, Whiteford would add another run in the fifth on Manley second home run of the day, pushing the Bobcats’ lead to 4-1.
That would be all of the run support Whiteford starter Lindsey Walker would need as she allowed just one run on three hits, while striking out nine in seven innings to earn the win for Whiteford.
Walker would help her own cause in the seventh inning as she recorded a two-RBI single to push the Whiteford lead to 6-1 before closing out the win.
“It’s amazing,” Manley said of advancing to the Division 4 final. “Our team is so good, everybody gives 110-percent all of the time. I think it’s our attitude and effort every single day, on and off the field that really makes us good.”
Whiteford’s semifinal win comes after the Bobcats knocked off the two-time defending state champion, Unionville-Sebewaing in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Unionville-Sebewaing ended Whiteford’s season in the quarterfinals last season, 14-1.
Hubbard said that last year’s loss was a motivating factor for her team coming into this season and said that the her team’s hard work has paid off as the Bobcats are one win away from a state title.
“That was embarrassing, we got our butts whooped, 14-1,” she said. “I told them, if you want to be a state championship team, you’ve got to beat those kind of teams.”
Indian River Inland Lakes 9, Kalamazoo Christian 0
East Lansing – Indian River Inland Lakes advanced to the Division 4 State Championship game for the second straight year with a 9-0 win over Kalamazoo Christian on Friday morning.
Aided by three errors by Kalamazoo Christian, Inland Lakes would score three runs in the first inning and never look back as senior Cloe Mallory would toss seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and tallied nine strikeouts in the win.
Leading the way offensively for the Bulldogs was Madison Milner and Vanessa Wandrie, who each went 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Sydney Depauw notched three hits in the win as well for Inland Lakes.