East Lansing bound
TRAVERSE CITY-The old adage that “defense wins championships” was proven true once again when the error-free defense of the Rogers City softball team gave it a 4-1 win in a Division 4 quarterfinal game against Central Lake on Tuesday.
This win marks Rogers City’s second quarterfinal win and trip to the semifinals in two years. The Hurons will play Fowler at 5 p.m. on Friday at Michigan State’s Secchia Stadium.
“It’s amazing, its my senior year and there’s no bigger dream than going to East Lansing,” Rogers City pitcher Nikki Radke said.
The Hurons were actually outhit 8-6 by the Trojans, but continually stifled Central Lake’s rally attempts throughout the game.
While the Hurons’ defense had no errors, the Trojans made two, both of which led to Rogers City runs.
The first came in the bottom of the first after Logan Fleming singled, advanced to second on a Courtney Streich sacrifice bunt and then stole third.
Sarah Meredith then smacked a long shot to left field that looked like an easy out. Trojan outfielder Aubrey Allen dropped the ball, giving Fleming time to score and tie the game 1-1.
Central Lake got its sole run in the top of the first when lead off batter Channing Hoogerhyde doubled, advanced to third and was driven in by an Alexis Carpenter single.
It was the only time the Trojans led.
The Hurons went up 2-1 in the second inning after Rachel Chojnacki drew a walk, was driven to second on a Cassie Brege sacrifice bunt and was then driven in on a Fleming double.
Fleming led her team at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, a single, an RBI and two runs scored.
Carpenter forced Rogers City flyouts and groundouts through 1-2-3 third and fourth innings as Central Lake’s pitcher. She pitched the whole game for the Trojans, giving up six hits, one walk and striking out five.
The fourth inning started out well for the Hurons when Delaney Buffman hit a hard shot to center field.
Brege made a long diving and rolling catch to get the out and prevent a double.
After this save, Alexa Quaine caught an oddly hit fly ball for the second out. The Trojans then hit three straight singles to load the bases.
Radke kept her head and threw a low pitch to Haley Pierson. Pierson connected, knocking the ball about three feet straight up over home plate.
Meredith, Rogers City’s catcher, made a dramatic falling catch to end the inning and strand three Trojan runners.
“I just have my team behind me and I know that if I pitch it down the middle, my team’s behind me,” Radke said. “Either way, I do better under pressure and you just have to have confidence in your team.”
Radke pitched the whole game for the win. She gave up eight hits and struck out four.
The Trojans picked up three more hits in the fifth, but Radke struck out two while Fleming threw out a runner at second to once again pinch the nose on a rally.
The score was still 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, but the Hurons added two insurance runs to keep their lead safe.
Central Lake’s fielding error on Streich in the fifth inning put the Hurons up 3-1. Streich was then driven in by a Meredith single to make the score 4-1.
Meredith advanced to second on a passed ball while Morgan Hall singled to put runners on first and second. After Quaine flew out, Kayla Fleury connected to advance the runners, but Hall accidentally got in the way of a Trojan fielder and was called out on interference.
Central Lake started to rally with two outs in the seventh with runners on second and third.
This potential rally was once again stymied by the Hurons’ defense, when Quaine stopped a tricky shot between the bases and threw out the runner at first to end the game.
“We played some good defense and we got some timely hits and took advantage of a few miscues from Central Lake,” Rogers City coach Karl Grambau said. “I’ll tell you what though, Central Lake certainly played hard today and they put the bat on the ball and they came to win.”
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.