• Michigan

Mother Nature figures out only way for No. 2 Clarkston and No. 5 Lake Orion to both survive district Saturday

By: Matthew B. Mowery, June 1, 2019, 5:55 pm

OXFORD — As with nearly every season, the worst thing about the district draw that puts both No. 2 Clarkston and  No. 5 Lake Orion in the same bracket is that there is no way that both of the highly-ranked teams can survive district Saturday.

Actually, there is ONE way … and Mother Nature provided it.

An early afternoon downpour on the heels of two lightning delays caused the postponement of Saturday’s district action until Monday, before the two Oakland Activities Association powerhouses could square off in their annual elimination game.

Clarkston will resume its game with Waterford Kettering — suspended with no outs in the top of the third, and the Wolves up 13-0 — at 10 a.m. on Monday, followed by the championship game at noon. The Dragons already ensured themselves a spot in the district title game with a 7-3 win over Oxford in Saturday’s first game. 

Clarkston wasted no time jumping on the Captains in their district semifinal, sending 16 batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring 11 runs. Olivia Warrington drove in two with a double to start the rally, then Abbey Tolmie and Sierra Kersten both hit three-run homers.

Tolmie added an RBI single in the second to make it 12-0, then Kersten reached on an infield single to lead off the third and scored on an error before the game was halted for a lightning delay. 

Within minutes, the skies opened up and, after 20 minutes of downpour, the decision was made to postpone the remaining two incomplete games.

The host Oxford Wildcats (17-17) gave Lake Orion a game in the first district semifinal, much closer than the two regular-season meetings between the OAA Red rivals that the Dragons won 19-2 and 10-0. 

The Dragons jumped out to a 4-0 lead after four innings, but Oxford cut it to one after the sixth inning, before Lake Orion pulled away again with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. 

Lake Orion jumped out a 1-0 lead in the first, when Tessa Nuss reached on an error, stole second, and scored on a single by Hailey Melchert.

Melchert doubled home Paytin Shadaia in the third, then Kimmie Sosnowski scored two more with a double for a 4-0 lead. 

Oxford cut that deficit in half with an RBI double by Alexis Cardona and an RBI single by Chloe Allen in the top of the fifth, then cut it down to just one when Sarah Tyrrell tripled and scored on an infield single by Makenzie Miller. 

The Dragons padded their slim lead in the bottom of the sixth, with a bases-loaded groundout by Melchert and a two-run double by Sarah Conley, who scattered 11 hits and struck out six to get the win in the circle. 

Should Lake Orion and Clarkston square off in the district championship game, it will be the first time the two have met for the district title contest since 2015, and the first time they’ve run into each other at all in the postseason since 2016.

The two teams split in the regular season, with Lake Orion winning the opener, 7-5, and Clarkston winning the nightcap, 10-1.

But no matter which team gets out of this district, that team seems to be headed on a postseason run. Each of the last four years, the winner of this district has wound up in the quarterfinals or semifinals.

Last year, Kettering knocked Lake Orion out in the district semifinals, before losing to eventual quarterfinalist Clarkston. In 2017, Oxford knocked off Lake Orion, 3-1, in the district semifinals, before losing to the Wolves, who made it all the way to the semifinals. 

In 2016, it was the eventual quarterfinalist Dragons who knocked off Clarkston, 5-4, in the district semis, then snuck past Oxford by the same score in the district title game.

In 2015, Clarkston beat Lake Orion 11-3 for the district title, en route to a berth in the quarterfinals.