Detroit — Sure, they were down, but for St. Clair Shores South Lake, it was more about getting here.
South Lake's magical run in the postseason came to a crushing end Tuesday at Wayne State, losing 15-0 in a four-inning mercy-shortened Division 2 state quarterfinal.
But the fact South Lake (14-8) reached the quarterfinals — for the first time in school history, no less — was more on the players' minds on this day.
“That’s what we talked about the last few days, and at practice last night, that today is about celebrating our accomplishments,” said coach Dave Ahearn said, “not necessarily about what the result is today.
"People didn’t expect us to win district and we won districts. Certainly regionals, people didn’t expect to win that and we were down a run in the bottom of the seventh inning, people don’t expect us to come back, and we get the walkoff win in regionals.
“We talked about that, and today was about being on this beautiful field — our girls don’t get a chance to see this kind of stuff — and this is all about accomplishments and what we did the last two weeks which allowed us to get on this field.”
Senior shortstop Reese Ruhlman hit three home runs and just missed a fourth, earning a triple, keying the the North Branch (29-9) offensive attack.
North Branch pitcher Maeson Schlaud didn’t allow a hit over the four innings.
North Branch scored seven runs in the first inning, the first seven batters all scoring, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
“That’s how we played regionals last weekend, we came out early and set the pace for the whole game,” North Branch coach Alyssa Welling said. “That’s real nice to get ahead and let my pitcher breathe a little bit so it’s not on her shoulders.
“We didn’t quite know what we were up against, so I just told the girls we’re playing the best team in the state no matter what, and they came out here and hit and did everything right, so no complaints here.”
Ruhlman, headed to play collegiately at Detroit Mercy, felt the quick start was beneficial.
“It definitely kind of calmed us down and gave us that reassurance that we can actually do this,” Ruhlman said. “We’re confident. We’re a pretty young team but we still have a great team and our pitcher has been amazing and our hitting has been great.
“We think we can make a good run out of it.”
Ruhlman admitted thinking about a fourth consecutive home run in the fourth inning, but the long drive to left hit the base of the fence and she settled for legging out a triple.
“It was in the back of my head that I might as well go for it,” Ruhlman said. “It hit the fence and I was kind of disappointed but I still got a triple out of it.”
Bay City Western 4, Lowell, 1
Clarkston 11, Hartland 3
Eaton Rapids 2, Ida 0
Escanaba 2, Freeland 0
North Branch 15, St. Clair Shores South Lake 0 (4 inn.)
Stevensville Lakeshore 3, Spring Lake 1
Dundee 8, Riverview Gabriel Richard 3
Millington 11, Marine City 0
Schoolcraft 14, Grandville Calvin Christian 6
Standish-Sterling 2, Negaunee 1
Coleman 10, Holton 0 (6 inn.)
Kalamazoo Christian 11, Hudson 1 (5 inn.)
Rogers City 2, Rudyard 1
Unionville-Sebewaing 13, Allen Park Inter-City Baptist 0
All games at Secchia Stadium, MSU
Warren Regina vs. Bay City Western, 3 p.m.
Howell vs. Clarkston, 5:30 p.m.
Final: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
North Branch vs. Escanaba, 12:30 p.m.
Stevensville Lakeshore vs. Eaton Rapids, 10 a.m.
Final: Saturday, 10 a.m.
Schoolcraft vs. Dundee, 3 p.m.
Millington vs. Standish-Sterling, 5:30 p.m.
Final: Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Unionville-Sebewaing vs. Rogers City, 12:30 p.m.
Coleman vs. Kalamazoo Christian, 10 a.m.
Final: Saturday, 3 p.m.