Tecumseh edges Wildcats for district championship
All three of Tecumseh High School’s varsity softball pitchers took part in holding off the Onsted Wildcats to pick up the Division 2 District title and earn the right to advance to regional action in Chelsea on Saturday, June 9.
And the win was some pretty sweet payback.
The Wildcats eliminated Tecumseh from post-season play last year, in the semifinal, and were on the edge of doing it again, rattling the Indians’ relieving pitcher, Emily Maves, by loading the bases in the sixth inning when down 3-2. The Indians’ third pitcher of the game, Bailee Crots, picked up a save by getting the final two outs of the sixth and then shutting the Wildcats down in the final inning.
Tecumseh gained a quick 2-0 lead to open the game with Kelsey Rendell and Mattie Wright each recording RBI doubles but Onsted’s Manda Messer hit a two run home run in the bottom of the first inning off the Indians’ starting pitcher, Alli Watson to tie the game.
What proved to be the game winning RBI was hit by senior Courtney LaVoy after the Indians loaded the bases in the top of the sixth inning.
Watson gave up five hits in five full innings of work. She struck out five without giving up a walk before Tecumseh coach Kristalyn Musselman brought in Maves in the sixth inning. Maves struggled and loaded the bases, prompting Musselman to replace her.
“Bailee Crots coming in for that jam in the sixth inning and then through the seventh inning, that’s a big time position to come in on and I thought she did a great job,” said Musselman. “She’s the reason we got out of the sixth inning.”
Crots had already pitched two innings of the semifinal to help get the Indians into the championship final but it didn’t affect her in the least. She closed out the sixth inning, backed by a close force out at home that was argued about by Onsted coach Robert Wright.
“You missed that one,” he emphatically shouted to the umpire behind the plate while standing near the third base box.
Onsted pulled a double play in the top of the seventh inning with a ball caught by its pitcher and her throw to first for the second out. An outfield fly was caught for the third out and the Wildcats went into the bottom of the inning with their teeth showing. Crots and the Indians left the ‘Cats with their mouths hanging wide open with a 1-2-3 seventh inning to secure the win.
Watson was credited for both pitching victories, after throwing five full innings in the semifinal to help beat Chelsea 8-1. She allowed just two hits while walking two and striking out five.
Crots pitched the final two innings and gave up one earned run on four hits while striking out two.
The Indians scored all eight of their runs before allowing the Bulldogs to tag a run to the scoreboard.
“I think we hit the ball well in these windy conditions,” said Musselman. “We had a couple balls that on any given day would have been doubles in the gap but they kind of held up and got caught. I think we were just one pitch away from really busting that championship game open.”
Tecumseh advances to Chelsea for regional play on Saturday, June 9, and Musselman said from here on out breaks won’t come as easy. Chelsea committed four errors to help the Indians easily win the semifinal.
“It gets tougher from this point,” said Musselman. “This was a big hump for us to get over. From this point forward we have to play our best game. I think we can hang with anybody if we play as well as we did today.”
The Indians have retained their motto from their two state championships and head into regionals with the thought, “We Believe.”
Recording hits for the Indians in the championship final were: Rendell (2-4, double, RBI), LaVoy (2-4, RBI), Mattie Wright (1-4, RBI), Kylie Hill (1-2) and Kaileigh Burkhard (1-3).
Tecumseh hits in the semifinal came from Hill (2-4, 2 doubles, RBI), Rendell (3-4, RBI), Kelsea Kaliszuk (2-4, 3 runs scored), Wright (1-4, 2 RBI) and McKenzie Rowe (1-4).
The Indians improved to 32-7 overall with the district victories.