Wake-up call has Clarkston bats rolling again, as Wolves pound way past rival Lake Orion for third straight district title
OXFORD — Someone poked the bear.
While the offense for the No. 2-ranked Clarkston Wolves has been potent all season long, the one time it wasn’t may have issued a wake-up call for the bats.
And may God have mercy on the souls of pitchers who have to face that offense now.
Clarkston continued its tear Monday morning, finishing off a 15-0, three-inning win over Waterford Kettering in the district semifinals, then pounding out an 11-0, five-inning win over rival Lake Orion in the district title game.
“The girls were putting the barrel of the bat on the ball so hard today, you could just see they had that energy, felt good about themselves. I mean, they’ve really worked hard on their hitting in the last week. I can’t even tell you how much time we’ve put in,” Clarkston coach Don Peters said. “Going in, I didn’t think we’d score the kind of runs we did here, but I knew we’d hit the ball hard and have fun.”
It was the third straight district title for the Wolves (33-2), who will be back at Oxford High School next Saturday for regional play, facing Birmingham Groves at noon. Utica and Rochester Adams play the first regional semifinal.
Clarkston carries a six-game win streak into regionals, but it was that loss two weeks earlier that might still be contributing to how they’re playing. They were shut out 1-0 by Hartland at the Ann Arbor tournament, and since then, they’ve averaged 11 runs per game.
The one-hitter by Hartland’s Rachel Everett, the same pitcher who beat them in quarterfinals a year ago, provided a bit of a wake-up call.
“Oh, yeah. Definitely. I think that’s what rejuvenated them, and they said ‘OK, back to work.’ We’re not always going to get those runs. Let’s work harder, think more positive about what we need to do,” Peters said. “They really looked at their hitting skill-set, worked on their weaknesses, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
The game against Kettering carried over from Saturday, when inclement weather — thunder and lightning followed by a downpour — suspended the game three batters into the top of the third inning, with the Wolves already up 13-0.
When play resumed Monday morning, a sacrifice fly by Sam Wycoff and an RBI single by Anna Skvarce gave the Wolves the two additional runs they needed to get them to the mercy-rule limit.
The runs didn’t stop coming once the district championship game started, either.
Clarkston scored four runs in the first — an RBI single by Hannah Cady, and a bases-loaded double by Abbey Barta — giving them a bit of a cushion against a Lake Orion squad they’d split with in the regular season.
“Huge sigh of relief. Really helps me out, makes my job a lot easier. My team, really once they get that first (big) inning, I can breathe a little. … Once I looked at the scoreboard, and just couldn’t stop smiling,” said Clarkston pitcher Olivia Warrington, the beneficiary of that run support, who admitted it wasn’t hard to keep the intensity from Saturday all the way until Monday.
“I just stayed fired up the whole time. It was a very intense Sunday.”
She threw a two-hit shutout against the Dragons, striking out six and walking none.
The game was cinched, though, when the Wolves blew it open with a five-run fourth.
“You can never tell. I think we were ready. A couple things happen, and next thing you know, you’re battling from behind. We just could never catch our breath, basically. Everything seemed to fall in. They were hitting the ball hard. … Warrington threw well, and everything Sarah (Conley) threw up there, holy crap, they ripped on it, you know?” Lake Orion coach Joe Woityra said. “We just talked about the other day, as a team, sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield. We were a big, old, fat bug today, boy. Unfortunately. And that’s life.”
Conley had pitched the Dragons to the regular-season win over Clarkston, but it helped the Wolves’ hitters that they’d seen the transfer senior before when they met again on Monday.
Sierra Kersten’s two-run single made it 6-0, kick-starting the fourth-inning rally. Another run scored on an error, then Warrington drove in two with a double to center, making it 8-0.
Barta’s RBI single finished off the rally, leaving it 9-0, one run shy of the mercy rule.
Clarkston would get that last run in the fifth, when Skvarce scored on an error, then Cady tacked on an insurance run with an RBI single, then Warrington closed out the game by holding Lake Orion scoreless in the bottom half of the fifth.
“We gave them a run, beat them the one time, and I thought we’d be right there again, but nothing went our way. … Next year will be a lot different. We’ve got eight seniors that will be graduating this year, and it’ll be back to the drawing board next year, and just keep plugging along,” Woityra said. “It’s just so hard to get here, and it’s just a shame to have to face them in districts — same with them facing us. It’s one thing the state really needs to straighten out. Some teams don’t play anybody until quarters, and there’s a handful of districts like this, where top-10 teams play each other right off the bat. It sucks for the girls. I mean, the coaches will get over it, but the girls, it’s just hard on them.”