EAST LANSING, Mich. - Two determined teams took the field at Secchia Stadium, Friday for the MHSAA Division 3 softball state semifinal, and even when it looked like Gladstone had it in the bag, Coloma made them think twice, literally, as in back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the seventh, a late two-out charge to rally and tie the game.
Gladstone was able to shake it off and after some brilliant baserunning from Christine Sharon, came away with a well-deserved 5-4 victory in eight innings.
The Braves had a commanding 4-1 lead entering the bottom of the seventh, their ace, Sharon, on the mound. Gladstone was rolling right along and after giving up a base single to Kristin Potter, Coloma was slapped with two outs on a strikeout and flyout. Then came up Jenna Faultersack to bat. She promptly launched a two-run homer over the right field fence and suddenly, the Comets had life. The bases were clear when Lexee Summers came up to bat, but undaunted, she took the first pitch Sharon threw and also hit it over the fence in right centerfield. Back to back blasts, boom, boom, game tied.
"It's crazy how the momentum goes back and forth," commented Braves manager Ashley Hughes. "You can see it. Coloma with their two home runs, that was massive. Our girls were a little quiet and you try to pump them up a little bit. They rallied the entire game, they were in good spirits today. The girls showed maturity beyond their years."
Heads were hanging among the Braves after the second home run that tied the game at 4-4. Hughes called a brief timeout and rallied the team.
"You never know what's going to happen in these types of games," she said. "It's a game of inches. One missed pitch, one error on defense, and those things helped us out too. The girls are just so great. They came together and they rallied and they were determined. They were fighting today."
In baseball, the theoretically overmatched Braves battled toe-to-toe with perennial powerhouse Decatur through eight innings, but in the end, the Raiders simply made more plays as they eliminated Gladstone with a 2-1 victory in the semifinal.
The game was a scoreless tie through the first four innings as Braves pitcher Sam Pouliot stifled the vaunted Decatur lineup. There was Matt Botti, who two games ago had a three hit, six-RBI performance, striking out and flying out. There was Cody Huston striking out, grounding out and flying out his first three times up.
"I gave it all I could, I'm just proud of my team," said Pouliot. "Although we didn't win, there's really nothing you can do but credit (Decatur)."