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DIVISION 1 SOFTBALL ROUNDUP: Portage Central, Bay City Western advance to state championship game

By: Scott Burnstein, June 12, 2014, 11:00 pm
Division 1 softball semifinals
Portage Central 1, Utica Ford 0 – At East Lansing, Gina Verduzco tossed a no-hitter to vault Central (42-3) into the state finals on Friday. Verduzco, who struck out 11 batters and only surrendered 2 walks on the day, also contributed the game-winning RBI-single to break a scoreless deadlock in the sixth inning.
The game ended with Verduzco fanning the side in the seventh.
She was only thinking about the win during her outing, giving no thought that she was tracking towards history.
"My job is to hit my spots from the circle, that’s all I think about when I’m out there," Verduzco told The Detroit News.
The last time Central won a state title was 37 years ago.
Ford wraps up its season 30-9, closing the curtain on a campaign where the program reached its’ first-ever final four.
Bay City Western 2, Romeo 1 – At East Lansing, using a late offensive explosion Western advanced to its’ second straight state finals, getting a game-winning RBI-double by Kelsie Popp in the sixths inning to rally her club back from a 1-0 deficit. Starting pitcher Hannah Leppek tied the game moments prior to Popp’s game-winner with an RBI-double of her own.
Leppek was fearsome down the stretch, working out of jams in the last two innings of the contest, recording the final out on a pop-up with the winning-run on base.
According to Leppek, it’s all about believing in yourself.
"You have to have the confidence that you’re better than the other team, that you’re better in the circle than the hitter is in the batter’s box," she said to The Detroit News. "That kind of attitude carries us."
Western (40-3) lost in the state finals last spring.
Romeo’s effort was highlighted by Morgan Gardner’s home run in the fourth inning to place the Bulldogs (31-8) in front.