SOFTBALL: Circle and dish magic make the 2013 softball state finals crackle
BATTLE CREEK – Immaculate pitching performances and clutch hitting highlighted state-finals Saturday on the prep softball diamond in Battle Creek this weekend.
Mattawan, Tecumseh, Dundee and Kalamazoo Christian all hoisted state-championship trophies on the shoulders of ace efforts from the circle and some primetime slugging from its swatters.
Taking home its second state crown in Division 1 in the past three years, Mattawan (35-8) was led by all-state spinner Allie Havers as it rallied to beat Bay City Western 2-1.
The 6-foot-6 Havers’ registered 11 strikeouts in the complete-game victory. Freshman Genny Soltesz slapped the game-winning hit, an RBI-single in the sixth, which chased Havers’ expertly-placed suicide-squeeze plating the tying run moments earlier.
Last spring, Mattawan lost in the state finals.
Making the win Saturday that much sweeter was that fact that Havers’ RBI broke Bay City Western all-state pitcher Hannah Leppek’s 40-inning shutout streak.
Havers will be playing basketball in the Big 10 next winter, headed to the University of Nebraska.
In Division 2, Emily Maves was marvelous the entire weekend, tossing back-to-back beauties in the circle to send Tecumseh (33-5) to its first state title in five years. After twirling a shutout in the semis, Maves spun a spine-tingler in the state finals, a 3-hitter that sparked her club’s 5-1 defeat of Livonia Ladywood. On offense, Tecumseh was fueled by McKenzie Rowe’s 3-for-4 day at the dish. Katie Martin chipped in with a pair of RBI and Kelsea Kaliszuk and Kylie Hill had one apiece, too.
The Division 3 state final pitting Dundee and Unionville-Sebewaing might have been Saturday’s most exciting crown showdown, needing two extra innings to complete it.
Senior Vanessa Ewing did it all for Dundee (44-1) in the title tilt, pitching a complete-game, 15-strikeout stunner, while belting the game-winning 3-run homer in the ninth that propelled her squad to the 3-0 triumph.
Ewing’s round-tripper came with two outs and on the heels of a double by Hannah Rachor to keep the Dundee at-bat alive.
Kalamazoo Christian (33-7) used a huge first-inning offensive eruption to ride to a 16-6 mercy-win over Ubly in the Division 4 finals, putting six runs on the board in the opening frame and using the momentum to glide past the finish line.
The 16 runs in the state championship game ties a 37 year-old record for most runs in the finals, deadlocking in the history books with a Byron club from 1976.
Starting in the circle, Stephanie Vanderlugt went 2-for-3 with 4 RBI to help her cause.
McKenna Razenburg and Kara Gjeltema both went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and centerfielder Tori Sides collected 3 hits for Kalamazoo Christian. Vanderlugt and Razenburg combined in the circle to turn the lights out on Ubly’s season in six innings. The top of the sixth was the knockout punch, as Kalamazoo Christian racked up six more runs.
Prior to Saturday, Kalamazoo Christian had not captured a state championship since 2002, when the program was coming off a run of six crowns in seven campaigns.