St. Clair Shores South Lake earned its first regional softball championship in school history Saturday with a 4-3 win over Ferndale.
South Lake’s longest postseason run prior to this season was in 2015 when it advanced to the regional final.
South Lake dominated Detroit Cesar Chavez 15-2 in the regional semifinals at Harper Woods, then rallied back from a 3-2 deficit in the bottom of the seventh when Avery Salvia singled home Mya Perron, then scored the go-ahead run on Brooklyn Giroux’s infield single.
South Lake will play North Branch Tuesday at 2 p.m. in a Division 2 state quarterfinal at Wayne State, followed by a 4 p.m. Division 1 state quarterfinal between Catholic League champion Warren Regina and Garden City.
The semifinals and finals will be Thursday through Saturday at Michigan State with Division 1 and 2 semis Thursday and Division 3 and 4 semis Friday, with all four title games on Saturday.
“This is our program’s first ever trip to the state quarterfinals,” said South Lake alum David Ahearn, who has been head coach the last 26 years. “All that history with the school makes the history we made on Saturday more special.
“Our season has been up and down until the district tournament began. We finished the regular season 8-7 and had a lot of rainouts. But, our focus had been on trying to capture another district title and we felt we were improving and heading in the right direction.”
South Lake’s team has two foreign-exchange students who are new to softball – Maria Sanchez-Lopez (Spain) and Clemence Barcque (France).
“I have never seen a team in all my career that has come together and rallied around each other the way this team has done over the past two Saturdays,” Ahearn said. “It’s been a real treat to watch and be a part of.”
South Lake is led by Salvia, a senior catcher who has worked well with Perron, a junior pitcher, and Giroux, a freshman pitcher.
“Avery Salvia has been our leader on the field and in the dugout,” Ahearn said. “She wasn’t having her best season at the plate, but came up big when we needed it most, getting nine hits and nine RBI in the four postseason games.”
Perron and Giroux have led South Lake on the mound; Giroux allowed just seven hits and struck out 26 in the district and regional championship games. South Lake also had strong performances by senior center fielder Olivia Beyer, junior right fielder Leah Truba and junior first baseman Juliyana Torres during its postseason run.
“Tuesday is going to be a terrific experience and great chance for us to celebrate the accomplishments that are allowing us to even be able to step on that field at Wayne State,” Ahearn said. “I think five of the last nine state champions are represented in this quarterfinal and we are thrilled to be a part of these final eight Division 2 teams.”
Hartland, Howell eye repeat trip
Kensington Lakes Activities Association rivals Hartland and Howell are on collision course to face each other in a Division 1 state semifinal Thursday at MSU.
But first Hartland has to get by Clarkston in a quarterfinal Tuesday at Novi while Howell must get past Canton in a quarterfinal at Chelsea. Both games are at 3 p.m.
Hartland defeated Howell 6-4 in last year’s semifinal before losing in the state title game to Caledonia, 6-4.
Hartland (33-3-1) defeated both Howell (6-5) and Clarkston (1-0) in a tournament in Ann Arbor in mid-May with sophomore pitcher Rachel Everett tossing the shutout against Clarkston.
Hartland first-year head coach Taylor Wagner has also received outstanding production from Sam Nagel, who is hitting a team-high .487, and Delaney Robeson, who has 11 home runs.
Everett is 29-2 with a 1.38 earned-run average, throwing in the mid-60s and striking out 212 batters in 181.2 innings.
Howell has a chance to set the state record for home runs in a season, already hitting 61, one behind Anchor Bay’s single-season record of 62 set this season. Anchor Bay’s season is over, losing a district game to Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse.
Howell junior Molly Carney, who is committed to Notre Dame, was at her best in the regionals, throwing a 4-0 regional semifinal shutout against St. Joseph, followed by a 1-0 shutout in the title game against Richland Gull Lake.
“Carney is throwing the ball real well, which gives us a shot every game,” said Howell coach Ron Pezzoni. “We’re not swinging the bats great the last few weeks, but we’re finding ways to win. Canton is a good team and I know their coach will have them ready to play.”
All games Tuesday
Garden City vs. Warren Regina, 4 p.m., at Wayne State
Bay City Western vs. Lowell, 1 p.m., at CMU
Howell vs. Canton, 3 p.m., at Chelsea
Clarkston vs. Hartland, 3 p.m., at Novi
St. Clair Shores South Lake vs. North Branch, 2 p.m., at Wayne State
Escanaba vs. Freeland, 4 p.m., at CMU
Spring Lake vs. Stevensville Lakeshore, 3:30 p.m., at Battle Creek
Eaton Rapids vs. Ida, 5 p.m., at Chelsea
Grandville Calvin Christian vs. Schoolcraft, 4 p.m. at Hope College
Dundee vs. Riverview Gabriel Richard, 1 p.m., at Novi
Marine City vs. Millington, 3 p.m., at Saginaw Valley
Negaunee vs. Standish-Sterling, 5 p.m., at Gaylord
Allen Park Inter-City Baptist vs. Unionville-Sebewaing, noon, at Saginaw Valley
Rudyard vs. Rogers City, 2 p.m., at Petoskey
Holton vs. Coleman, 2 p.m., at Hope College
Kalamazoo Christian vs. Hudson, 6:30 p.m., at Battle Creek