Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant
The 8U girls softball team, coached by Rod Kinzler and Jorge Zuniga, took second place at the Berrien Springs All-Star tournament this weekend. The girls’ bats started slowly on Wednesday when they lost to Buchanan, 1-3. On Thursday they were hitting better when they beat host Berrien Springs, 17-0, for the only shutout in pool play. Bracket play began on Saturday, and the Panthers advanced by beating Buchanan, 10-8. Next up was North Lincoln in a semi-final game, and the Panthers again came out on top, winning 10-7. In their third game of the day they lost the championship to Lakeshore, 11-6.
The 10U softball team, coached by Tyler Kirksey and Dennis Thomas, also played in the Berrien Springs tournament last week. The first game of pool play was Wednesday at the Lakeshore softball complex where they lost to Lakeshore, 10-8. Next up was Bridgman on Friday, who they beat 16-8. In the first bracket game they faced Bridgman again and this time the Bees came out on top 12-3, to end the Panthers’ tournament.
The 12U girls, coached by Cory Edelberg and Tom Kiefer, were also in Berrien Springs in a division with just four teams. On Wednesday they lost to Buchanan, 9-3. On Thursday they lost to River Valley in a close one, 9-7. In Saturday morning bracket play they beat Buchanan to earn a spot in the championship game. They took second place after a 10-0 loss to River Valley.
The boys Minor (8U) all-star team played in the 45th annual North Lincoln tournament held at Eaton Park alongside I-94. The team, coached by Martel Taylor and Adam Jarvis, was playing against 13 teams in its division. They started pool play with a win on Thursday, beating Lawton 16-5. Next up was Bridgman and the Panthers beat them in a close one, 9-8. In the first round of the brackets they beat Benton Harbor, 21-1. Next up was a chance to earn a spot in semi-final play against Lakeshore where they lost 16-0 to bow out of the tournament.
The boys 10U team stayed close to home, playing at the tournament in Hartford. This one is a double-elimination bracket. In their first game on Friday they beat South Haven and then lost to Decatur on Saturday morning. Next they beat host Hartford, but then fell to Eau Claire in their third game of the day to end their weekend.
Hooterville Hitters beat the Paw Paw River Cats, 8-6
Old time base ball made its return to Hays Park on Saturday as part of the Independence Day activities in Watervliet. The game was played by 1860s rules. This was a time when the teams got together for some exercise and to play a gentleman’s base ball game that prohibited sliding, cussing, spitting.
BLISTERING BAT… Hooterville Hitter Derrick Burkhardt blisters a ball during early action Saturday in the team’s vintage base ball game against the Paw Paw River Cats. The Hitters edged the Cats 8-6. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)
There were no gloves or mitts, as they hadn’t been used in ball games at that time. It’s also a game where catching a struck ball on one bounce was good for an out. Announcer Tom Gear shared plenty of base ball history with the players and fans, especially the old time language.
SMASHING STACY… Paw Paw River Cats player Stacy Denton uses the business end of a wooden bat during Saturday’s vintage base ball game against the Hooterville Hitters at Hays Park. The Cats dropped the contest 8-6. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)
The teams were made up of community volunteers and the Miss Watervliet Queen and her court, assisted by two members of the House of David base ball team. The game was generally played by rules we are all familiar with, but players (and the volunteer umpire) needed a couple innings to grasp some of the details. For instance, a foul tick caught by the behind (catcher) on one bounce is the same as a pop-up and the batter is out, or dead. Similarly, a struck ball that first hits the ground in fair territory is always fair, even if it hits in front of the plate and spins back to the behind. The hurler throws pitches underhand, and in a fun twist there are no walks, and foul balls do not count as strikes.
After scoring, a runner must visit the scorer’s table and ring a bell, then ask the scorer to tally the ace. In the end the Hitters tallied 8 aces and the River Cats tallied 6.
Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath
Michigan Wolverines play in first college World Series in 35 years, but come up a tad short
When you think about the Big Ten athletics, especially where Michigan is concerned, your first thoughts usually are of football or basketball. In the spring Coach Hutchinson usually has the Wolverines in the hunt for a championship in softball, but rarely do you think of Michigan and baseball championships. That almost changed last week for the Wolverines, as they made a very improbable and almost impossible run at winning the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. But their Cinderella run ended in the final championship game, as they fell to national baseball power Vanderbilt, 8-2.
LIL’ SLUGGER… After fouling off three pitches, Coloma’s 8U All-Star player Jayden Hampton belts a single to left field against Buchanan Thursday at Eaton Park. The Comets beat the Bucks 9-2 in the 45th annual baseball tournament opener in St. Joseph. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)
Michigan’s last appearance in the College World Series was 1984 and they also appeared in 1983. That team was led by future Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, who won a world series with the Cincinnati Reds, many gold gloves, and MVP awards, before being inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. The Big Ten has not won the baseball championship since 1966, and Michigan has not won this championship since 1962. That almost changed as the Wolverines went to Omaha on a mission to end more than 50 years of frustration for fans of the Big 10.
Michigan was not greatly regarded by the end of the regular season, and they were one of the last 4 teams to be chosen as one of the 64 teams to compete for a national title. They definitely started out as a long shot.
Michigan had kind of an up and down season, although they have a wealth of talent on this team. Early on they were 14-4 on the season, and then traveled down to Texas in March where they lost a 3-game series to Texas Tech. And lost badly, getting outscored 29-10 in the three games. The Wolverines then reeled off a 13-game winning streak from April 13 to May 8. They then followed that by losing 6 of the next 7.
Michigan finished the regular Big Ten Season with a 16-7 record, and second place, only one game behind regular season champ Indiana. In the Big 10 tourney, Michigan lost their opening game then won three straight before losing their last game to Nebraska 7-3, after beating them 18-8 the night before. Then Michigan surprisingly made the field of 64 and they were sent out west to compete in the regional in Corvallis, Oregon. Michigan won that regional by winning three out of four games, including two from Creighton, who finished the season as the number 22 team in the country.
Michigan’s reward for this was being sent to Los Angeles to play the Super Regional against the number one seed in the country, UCLA on their home turf. This had to be the best baseball played all season on the collegiate level, as the games were close. The pitching dominated for the most part, and each game had the fans on the edge of their seats.
Michigan won the first game of the best out of three by a score of 3-2. The next night UCLA came out on top. The game went 12 innings, after both teams scored in the ninth but came away tied 4-4. UCLA scored in the 12th to win it.
Michigan’s junior pitcher Tommy Henry then pitched Michigan into the college World Series in Omaha, beating the UCLANS 4-2. It was a huge upset, as the Bruins were a heavy favorite to not only move on to Omaha but to win it all.
The Wolverines first game in Omaha brought them up against that Texas Tech team that pounded them back in March. But they were a different Michiga