Young Lutheran North captures Catholic League C-D title in first finals appearance, holding off Bishop Foley
DETROIT — There’s plenty to be said about being entirely new … and it’s not all bad.
The league’s relative newcomer, Macomb Lutheran North made its first appearance in the Catholic League’s C-D softball finals on Monday and — using its core of talented ninth-graders — outscored Madison Heights Bishop Foley, 8-6, to win the program’s first CHSL title.
“It means a lot. The school has won a lot of trophies … but they haven’t won in a while, so this is really great that we’re coming back, and bringing softball back,” said freshman Reagan Ruatto, who was 3-for-4 on the afternoon, but just missed a home run in the sixth that could’ve been the coup de grace.
Ruatto was one of four freshmen in the starting lineup, and one of seven overall on the squad for Lutheran North.
“It’s just been special for me as a coach. I’ve never had a team where I brought seven freshmen up. And they’ve all contributed. Every single one of them, had their moments this season,” Mustangs coach Dan Anger said. “That (Cecilia Schihl) was a freshman pitcher, and I’ve got another freshman pitcher (Olivia Dryke). It looks good for the future, but you never know. So we’re going to enjoy this. Believe me. You never know if we’ll get here again.”
Monday’s appearance was a first.
Lutheran North joined the Catholic League in 2010, and was approved for postseason play in the fall of 2016.
“We were so fortunate to get in, because we didn’t have a league to play in,” Anger said. “I’ve been coaching a long time, and I did travel ball for years. This is more special, because these kids — these aren’t your top travel-ball players, these are kids that are just hungry to come out and have fun and play. So, for me, this is real special.”
Foley jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third, as Brooke Imrick’s RBI single and two errors got the Ventures on the board, but Lutheran North responded with a four-run fourth-inning rally, aided by four errors. Julia Zauel had the lone RBI, on a sacrifice fly to right.
After Lutheran North took the lead in the fourth, 4-2, Foley tied it in the fifth on Melanie Moore’s two-run homer.
Lutheran North batted around in the fifth, starting the frame with consecutive singles by Anna Broulliette, Reagan Ruatto and Emma Shannon (RBI). Elizabeth Kandt added a two-run single to make it 8-4.
Elle Laurencelle’s two-run double for Foley in the top of the sixth cut the deficit to two, 8-6, but the Ventures couldn’t get any closer.
The margin might’ve been bigger, had Ruatto’s home run counted. The freshman hit it over the wall in right, but missed first base. Bishop Foley appealed, and Ruatto was called out, keeping it 8-6.
The first baseman recorded the final two outs of the game a half-inning later, and Anger held her up as an example of how his team had played this year.
“Reagan, the first baseman, she hit that home run, but missed first base. A lot of kids would’ve just had their heads down, but she’s a freshman — there’s seven freshmen out there — but she didn’t fall apart. She made two beautiful plays. She kept her head in the game. Yeah, she was disappointed — overstepped first,” Anger said, admitting that the Mustangs took some lumps this year with a young team. “I knew we’d make a lot of mistakes, because I moved some people around, position-wise. … I knew we had potential. I knew we had these kids coming. I’d worked with them before. It was special for them to develop together. We had a lot of errors this year — I do know that. But they played over that, and that’s the only reason we got here. It’s pretty exciting for me to have that kind of freshman team.”