Indians advance to state quarterfinals and beat Stevensville Lakeshore 5-1
After picking up the Division II regional title on Saturday, June 8, with a 8-5 victory against hosting Airport Tecumseh’s varsity softball team traveled to Battle Creek on Tuesday and defeated Stevensville Lakeshore 5-1 in the state quarterfinal.
Tecumseh led Lakeshore 2-0 by the end of the fifth inning and increased its lead to 5-0 in the sixth inning. Complete results were not available by the Herald’s press time.
The Indians will now face Livonia Ladywood in the state semifinal on Friday, June 14, at 6:30 p.m. at Bailey Park in Battle Creek. The winners will face either Linden or Saginaw Swan Valley in the championship final at Bailey Park on Saturday, June 15, at 5:30 p.m.
Tecumseh had a much harder time getting past Airport in the regional championship game. A rally in the seventh inning brought Tecumseh back to life and gave the Indians enough momentum to force Airport into extra innings before securing the title, after 10 innings of nail-biting action.
The faces of the Indians’ fans, parents, coaches and player’s reflected the dire situation in the seventh and final inning when down 5-3 and looking at the end of the season with two outs and nobody on the bases.
Then Kelsey Rendell stepped to the plate and started a rally for the Indians with a solid double. Katie Martin followed with a RBI single and scored from first base on a RBI double from Kylie Hill that tied the game. Airport closed the inning with no further damage but Tecumseh’s starting pitcher Emily Maves had to be on top of her game in the bottom of the frame as the Jets were pumped up when it came time to pick up their bats.
Despite having a shaky start, Maves gave up seven walks in the game, she settled down and didn’t give the Jets much to work with through another three innings in the circle. She wound up logging 21 strikeouts to help the Indians pick up the title.
“Our defense was fine today but Emily was a little off. In the second and third innings she just couldn’t find her mark,” said Tecumseh coach Jeff Nowak. “I was talking about do we pull her or not and about the fourth inning she got it together and was phenomenal again to finish this game.”
Maves had never pitched 10 innings before, and it was coming off a win from the circle the game before where she helped the Indians win the semifinal 13-0 in just five innings.
She said she reminded herself of what needed to be done to get the win and her catcher, Martin, taking a trip to the circle to calm her down also helped get her out of a couple jams.
“She helps me a lot. She calms me down and makes sure I can do my best,” Maves said.
In the top of the 10th inning, Mattie Wright started a big rally that would ultimately win the game for the Indians. She hit a leadoff single to give the Indians some momentum and hope and then McKenzie Rowe followed with a bunt she beat out at first base. Kelsea Kaliszuk drove one to the outfield and loaded the bases with no outs and Kelsey Rendell stepped up at the plate and drilled the ball to right field to score two runs. Kylie Hill put the ball in play to follow and drove in the final run of the game.
“Offensively, the girls just don’t quit,” said Nowak. “They believe. They have it written on their arms.”
Maves (18-2) was helped out in the bottom of the 10th inning with Wright making a spectacular diving catch near second base for the first out. An easily caught fly ball at center field and a routine pop-up ended Airport’s season and gave the Indians reason to celebrate a hard-fought victory on the infield.
To start the game Tecumseh took a 2-0 lead after the first inning with Wright getting on with a single and getting sent home with another single by Rendell. Katie Martin then sent Rendell home on an RBI single.
Airport scored a run in the bottom of the inning and after setting the Indians down without damage in the second inning the Jets added three more runs for a 4-2 lead going into the third inning.
“We made a couple of mistakes and that cost us early,” Nowak admitted of the Indians after getting thrown out on a couple aggressive plays when trying to steal. “I was not happy about it, but at the same time, we’ve been aggressive all year, maybe a little overaggressive. Sometimes you gamble and you lose.”
Airport increased its lead to 5-2 with another run added in the fourth inning and Tecumseh set up the dramatic rally of the seventh inning with a run scored in the top of the fifth (5-3).
Martin had four hits for Tecumseh while Mattie Wright, McKenzie Rowe, Kaliszuk and Rendell each added three hits.
In the semifinal against Battle Creek Harper Creek, Tecumseh won 13-0 in five innings with Maves pitching four innings, striking out four and allowing only one hit, while Kayla Kormos pitched the fifth inning, and struck out one.
Tecumseh’s offense was led by Rowe, Hill and Morgan Monahan with two hits each.
Every Tecumseh batter reached base in the game as the team had 10 hits and drew eight walks.
Nowak also believes in his girls. He said he thought he had a group that had potential in getting the job done.
“I thought we could get here, I really did,” he said. “About three or four weeks ago everything was clicking and I thought we had what it was going to take to get here.”
The Indians improved to 31-5-3 overall with the wins.