BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Hitters defeated OAA Red foes Troy Athens and Stoney Creek for the third time this season to make it into the Elite Eight during Saturday’s rain.
“They play hard,” said Don Peters, head coach for Clarkston Varsity Softball. “There is a real closeness, a real bonding. There is great chemistry and that comes from them. They keep me young and they are very energizing to be around. We really enjoy coaching.”
Clarkston defeated Stoney Creek in the regional final, 5-0.
Junior Olivia Warrington pitched her second game for the day and proved nothing could slow her down as she struck out 16 batters of the 23 she faced. The strikeouts which included seven in a row as she shut down three batters in the second and third innings and the first batter in the fourth inning.
“She just buckled down and did a great job,” Peters said about the whole day. “She was really focused. I am really proud of her.”
The Wolves hitters continued to dominant the field as well as they scored their first two runs off a home run from senior Paige Blevins in the first inning. They didn’t score again until the fifth inning off a hit from sophomore Sierra Kersten. She hit a double in the top of the seventh inning, which turned into two RBIs as the ball went loose with her and sophomore Abbey Tolmie taking the opportunity to run home.
The Cougars didn’t have a chance to make up the runs in the final inning as they were quickly shut down by defense with throws to Tolmie at first and a catch by Tolmie as well as a strike out from Warrington.
“Stoney Creek’s pitcher did a really nice job,” Peters added. “She mixed it up. She went low in and out, high in and low. She kept us at bay because we can hit.”
Kersten went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
“She had a great double header,” Peters added. “She played great defense. Everyone contributed. The girls stayed focused in the dugout. There was a lot of high energy. It’s not always in there. They are always supportive. I think that’s a big part of why we are so successful.”
The Wolves opened the day with a 13-3 win over Troy Athens and started the scoring quickly at the bottom of the first inning. Kersten hit a double and the next batter to the plate, sophomore Hannah Cady, hit a double to bring Kersten home and put the score, 1-0.
Cady made her own run while Troy Athens chased a loose ball while sophomore Abbey Barta was up to bat, putting the score, 2-0.
The Wolves closed the inning 3-0 off a run from senior Hannah Chadwell’s double after she hit the ball to the fence.
Troy Athens scored on a home run at the top of the second inning and before they could score again, Clarkston defense shut them down with a catch by Barta and pitching from Olivia Warrington.
The bats got hotter in the bottom of the second inning as the Wolves scored six runs with an RBI from Blevins off a walk. Next Barta hit deep to the fence for a double bringing in three runners and Chadwell hit a 2-run homerun. Both teams scored twice in the third inning to bring the game to 11-3.
Clarkston defense quickly shut Athens down at the top of the fourth inning with a catch from Blevins and throws from Kersten and Chadwell to Tolmie at first base to tag two runners out.
The Wolves didn’t score in the fourth inning but closed the game during the fifth inning as Cady and Blevins each brought in runs to end the game in a 13-3 mercy.
Kersten went 4-for-4 for the game and had one RBI. Cady went 3-for-4 and had two RBIs. Chadwell went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Barta had double with three RBIs.
Warrington pitched for five innings and had six strikeouts.
The regional win sent the Wolves to the MHSAA Division 1 Softball Quarterfinals on Tuesday.
“We focus on, I know it sounds corny, but one pitch at a time,” Peters smiled. “We tell them one game at a time, play hard and expect positive results.”
The lost to Hartland to finish the season, 2-1.
The winner moves on to the semifinals on Thursday at Michigan State University, 12:30 p.m. The finals are set for Saturday at MSU, 10 a.m.