08-27-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

LADY PANTHERS 16U… softball team took 5th place at the USSSA state championship tournament in Canton, Michigan last weekend. Pictured (from the left) Front row – Christin Cooper, Hannah Hart, Grace Chisek, Maddie (MJ) Flowers, Jaylie Querfurth; Back row – Ellie Golden, Lexi McCarty, Haiden Edelberg, Addison Riley, Olivia Elliott, Samantha Dietz, and Abby Whorton. (Contributed photo)

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

One last softball weekend for 2020

A talented group of Watervliet High School softball players traveled to the USSSA state championships in Canton, Michigan last weekend. The team went 3-2 to finish fifth place in one of the toughest 16-team tournaments they’ll see until the next MHSAA regionals. The 16U Panther team went 2-1 in pool play, then won their first bracket game and lost to the eventual tournament champion.

The Panthers opened the tournament against a Livonia 18U team on Friday evening. They promptly put five runs on the board in the top of the first inning with their first five batters. From there they played small-ball on their way to an 8-2 win behind solid pitching from starter Hannah Hart and reliever Haiden Edelberg.

Game two had the Panthers starting off in the same fashion. Leadoff batter Samantha Dietz got a single, MJ Flowers got a walk, and number three batter Grace Chisek pounded a home run over the left field fence to take a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Panthers eventually lost the game 5-4 on a walk-off single in the bottom of the final inning.

In the third game of pool play the Panthers dominated a Lansing 16U team 11-2. Once again, in the top of the first inning their first two batters scored. They didn’t have any big innings, but they put up at least two runs in every inning. Hart and Edelberg again combined for the win, propelling them into a favorable spot in the bracket.

Playing as the home team for the first time, starting pitcher Hart escaped trouble in the top of the first after an error and a double put runners on second and third bases. Leadoff hitter Dietz again scored in the first inning, this time on a sacrifice fly by Olivia Elliot which also moved Chisek to third base. Christin Cooper then hit a single to plate Chisek and the Panthers took a 2-0 lead after their first at-bat. They scored two more in the second inning then pounded out four more runs in the fifth to take an 8-2 lead. They gave up two runs in the fifth inning, but Elliot got two called third strikes to end the game at 8-4.

In their final game the Panthers lost to the tournament champion from Otsego, 13-3. The only highlight of the game was a two-run homer by Chisek in the third inning.

For the weekend Chisek and Dietz led all Panther hitters, each batting .500. Dietz scored nine runs on six singles. Chisek had six hits, including the two homers, along with nine RBI.

Cooper and Elliot, both, batted .455. Cooper had a pair of RBI to go along with two doubles. Elliot had a double, five RBI, and no strikeouts in 11 at-bats. Abby Whorton batted a solid .400, with a double and home run leading to four RBI.

Hannah Hart was 3-0 pitching, giving up just five runs in 11 innings and striking out six batters. Elliot pitched ten strong innings, collecting 11 strikeouts and doing well in the author’s favorite stat by hitting three batters. Edelberg was also solid in her two innings of relief.

Other highlights included Whorton giving up her body to run through a fence to try and catch a ball and MJ Flowers with key sacrifices and making the pitchers