Clarkston scores in the seventh, advances to semifinals
Detroit — Clarkston fans in the stands were all over softball coach Don Peters for not sending the base runner.
Ten minutes later, those same fans were jumping for joy, as Clarkston beat Walled Lake Northern, 1-0, in a thrilling Division 1 quarterfinal at Wayne State on Tuesday.
In the top of the seventh inning of a scoreless, tense game, freshman Abby Barta looped an opposite-field single into left field to drive in the game’s lone run, and send a young and inexperienced Clarkston team to the semifinals for the first time since 2003.
Clarkston will play Grandville at 3 p.m. Thursday at Michigan State.
“It’s gonna be great,” junior shortstop Paige Blevins said. “But we’re gonna have to earn it. It’s not going to be handed to us, that’s for sure.”
Clarkston (33-9) sure earned it Tuesday against a Northern team (33-8) that had won a meeting, 7-6, earlier this season.
Despite several base runners early in the game, it couldn’t break through, not against a Northern team that played spectacular defense, most notably a diving stop by senior shortstop Kelsey Stachowski with two out and the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
In the seventh, though, Clarkston sophomore Sarah Gladding led off with her second double in a row. Peters wanted to bunt her to third, but junior Hannah Chadwell got behind two strikes, so she had to swing away — and did so just fine, sending a sharp single into center.
That’s where Peters had to make a quick decision at third, on Gladding.
He decided to hold her, given there were no outs, and the ball was shallow.
The fans weren’t thrilled, for a second anyway, when Baxter knocked the winning single to left.
Clarkston could’ve gotten more, if not for a spectacular, over-the-shoulder diving catch by junior left fielder Brooke Lakian.
“We work on that all the time in practice,” Northern coach Kristen Woodard said of the defense.
“Those are the plays that are going to keep you in games. That just takes your team to the next level.
“It’s fun to see them when they get rewarded for making those big plays.”
That gave Northern a shot to get back in it in the seventh inning, but Clarkston sophomore Olivia Warrington retired the side 1-2-3 in the seventh, setting off a celebration at the pitcher’s circle.
Warrington threw a one-hitter, the only knock being a fifth-inning single. She struck out six and walked one.
Afterward, Clarkston players gathered along the third-base line and danced to “Teach Me How to Dougie.”
That routine isn’t a tradition. It was a first.
“We always said to Coach, ‘We’re going to dance after one of these games,” Blevins said. “Then we won this and made Clarkston history, all right, we’ve gotta pull it out now. You’ve gotta pull it out sometime.”
Said Peters, standing by the third-base dugout on a sunny scorching day: “Five freshmen and two sophomores, to get them into the Final Four, life doesn’t get any better than that, does it?
“Well, yeah, if I’ve got a nice Wave Runner. You got one for me?”
* Clarkston 1, Walled Lake Northern 0
* Grandville 2, Midland 1
* Macomb Dakota 6, Garden City 5
* Mattawan 9, Monroe 4
* Stevensville Lakeshore 6, Spring Lake 1
* Ida 8. Flint Powers 0
* Richmond 4, Dearborn Divine Child 2 (eight innings)
* Escanaba 5, Saginaw Swan Valley 0
* Monroe SMCC 5, Grosse Pointe Liggett 0
* Shepherd 5, Millington 0
* Gladstone 2, Grandville Calvin Christian 1
* Napoleon 9, Coloma 7
* O.L. Whiteford 1, Unionville-Sebewaing 0
* Coleman 5, Holton 0
* Kalamazoo Christian 4, Mendon 0
* Indian River Inland Lakes 11, Rogers City 1