BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
“Every day is a great day” is Don Peters’ motto and for him and Clarkston Varsity Softball it was a great season as they ended the year in the Final Four.
“It was a great ride,” the head coach said smiling about the young team of five freshman, eight sophomores, four juniors and one senior. “It was very enjoyable to see them grow as individuals and as a team to see them get better and better. We were certainly one of the best teams in the state by the end of the year. I think we proved that in the playoffs.”
The Lady Wolves bowed out of the playoffs running after their 2-1 loss to Grandville in the MHSAA Division I Softball Semifinal matchup last Thursday at Michigan State University.
“Right until the end I thought we had a chance to win,” Peters said. “It was a great experience for everybody. What a fun time to be in the state semifinals and the conditions were great.”
Peters explained he had heard Grandville’s pitcher, Ellie Muilenberg, liked to change up her throws.
“That was right,” he said. “Like every other team they have good hitters and good defense. You wouldn’t be there if you weren’t good.”
The game was scoreless with Wolf Olivia Warrington and Muilenberg on the pitcher’s mound until the sixth inning when Grandville made two runs.
Clarkston loaded the bases at the bottom of the inning and a hit from Sierra Kersten brought Abbey Tolmie in for the Lady Wolves’ lone run.
“I am really proud of them,” Peters said. “They played hard. They made some great plays. The play before Hannah Chadwell faked that girl out, Hannah Cady made a great play at the plate, Sierra stayed on the ball that was bounced off the first baseman’s glove, Alex Gladding made a great catch – they came to play. They just didn’t score enough runs.”
The Lady Wolves qualified with a 1-0 win over Walled Lake Northern, who they lost to earlier in the season.
“It was awesome,” said Peters. “The girls played fantastic – great defense, clutch hits, hitting and phenomental pitching.”
He added in the bottom of the seventh inning the team knew they had the win.
“The girls were leaving the dugout and you could just see the confidence,” Peters said. “I can’t stress how good Olivia was – that is a good hitting team.”
For both teams it came down to pitching where Warrington had six strikeouts and one hit for her shutout.
“It was a great opportunity to play them,” Warrington said. “What was going through my head was trying not to psych myself out. I tried not to say this is a big game.”
She added her teammates were great on defense.
“The girls helping me out was great,” she said. “I definitely couldn’t do it without them behind me.”
“Outfielders were chasing them down and catching them,” Peters added. “It was a complete team victory.”
For batting, Sarah Gladding went 2-for-3 and had two doubles. Abbey Barta had one RBI off her lone hit and Hannah Cady went 2-for-4.
The Lady Wolves finished the season with an 33-10 overall record while winning the OAA Red league, district and regional titles and as Academic All-State team.
“I am hopeful and pretty optimistic these girls will continue to work hard and get better,” said Peters. “There are more good things to come in the future. I am a bit corny, but I am blessed to be part of it – part of their lives and coaching them.”
The team lost one senior, Alex Gladding, who left a legacy behind.
“She has a great attitude,” Peters said. “She was always up for the games. She enjoyed playing, she played with a smile, she gave it all. She made great catches in the playoffs. She did what we asked her to do. You couldn’t have a better role model and captain. We are going to miss her. Alex is a quality person, quality athlete and pretty smart.”