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Watervliet Press Box

Track and Field Regional winners

Four Panther athletes are headed to the Division 3 state track meet on June 1 in Kent City. Anya Sexton won her third consecutive discus title and also qualified for the shot put with a third place finish. Daniel Mandujano qualified with a second place finish in the 1600 and a commanding win in the 3200. Tia Caldwell finished second in the 400, setting a new PR at 1:01.34.

The most dramatic race for the Panthers was from Morgan Lowell who came from behind with a long kick to win the 3200 by just .22 seconds (12:24.66) over Bridgman’s Clara Fast, the two of them 20 seconds in front of everyone else.

FOUR TIMES CHAMPS… The Watervliet Panther boys varsity team won their fourth consecutive SAC Lakeshore division baseball championship with their sweep of Coloma on May 14, 2024. The team has been dominant for the last four seasons of Lakeshore division play. (Contributed photo)

BASE STEALING TEAM… Watervliet’s Jacob Querfurth steals a base against Galesburg Augusta on Saturday, May 18. The Panthers eventually won the game, 10-0. (TCR photo by John Oliphant)

The high school track and field teams have one more meet prior to the state finals, the postponed SAC meet being held this week.

Softball loses DH to Coloma

The Panther girls varsity softball team ran into trouble last week in the form of rival, Coloma’s Lady Comets on Tuesday, May 14. This pair of games would determine the SAC Lakeshore title, and in the end South Haven captured first place. The Comets won the first game 3-1, with the Panthers being held to just two hits and striking out 10 times. With any title hopes dashed, the Panthers lost the second game 14-3.

The prior day the Lady Panthers hosted Buchanan, the third-ranked team in D3, and took a pair of big losses, 18-0 and 14-0. Playing at Paw Paw on Friday, May 17 they split with the Red Hawks, losing 2-10 then winning 7-5. Finally, on Saturday they traveled to Constantine for a pair of big wins, 13-0 over Martin and 15-5 over Constantine.

Grace Chisek’s torrid offensive pace slowed a bit with just 14 hits on the week, including two doubles and two triples. Sienna Bulat had nine hits and nine RBI and Abby Whorton had nine hits with two doubles and five RBI. Ellie Golden had six hits and Megan Cox had five hits with three doubles and five RBI.

The team gets a short break after that eight game week, playing at Berrien Springs on Tuesday, May 21 and then closing the regular season with Hartford on Thursday, May 23.

Districts kick off at Watervliet on Friday, May 28 when Hartford takes on Bangor. The winner faces Bloomingdale for a place in the finals. The other side of the bracket has Watervliet playing Coloma on Saturday, June 1. Can the Panthers exact some revenge?

Panther Baseball ranked #7 in D3

SENDING THE BALL FLYING… Panther Owen Epple cracks a double late in the game against Kalamazoo Christian on Saturday, May 18. Epple had two doubles in the game and threw out a runner while catching. The Panthers lost 6-5 despite a last-inning rally that came up short. (TCR photo by John Oliphant)

The Panther varsity baseball team dropped a few spots and is currently ranked at #7 in Division 3 by the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association. Good stuff, but rankings mean little once the district tournaments begin next weekend. The boys start their postseason against Coloma on Saturday, June 1 in Coloma and then will most likely face Schoolcraft in the title game later in the day.

Meanwhile, they had a pretty good week — except for one inning. They started the week by sweeping Coloma 10-0 and 13-2 on Tuesday, May 14. They then beat up on Bangor 10-0 and 14-0. On Saturday they had a 4-3 lead over Kalamazoo Christian and had that one inning where bad luck combined with some infield errors resulting in a 6-5 loss. They closed the day with a relatively easy 10-0 win over Galesburg Augusta.

Alex Hicks led the offense last week with 12 hits and seven RBI. Owen Epple had nine hits, including three triples and a home run. Wyatt Epple had eight hits with four doubles and a home run. Caleb Jewell had eight hits and Sam Crago had six hits with three doubles.

The ten Panther pitchers gave up just six runs all week and struck out 30 batters!

While digging up the weekly stats we found a great one: in six games, opposing teams stole one base and were thrown out stealing three times. Owen Epple gets credit for that as teams just don’t steal on him. He’s thrown out ten runners and teams have stolen just 19 bases all season. In contrast, the Panthers have 175 stolen bases, being caught just seven times.

Girls Soccer drops one to Lawton

The Watervliet High School girls soccer team is now 6-4-2 overall on the season, and 2-2-2 in the SAC Lakeshore. The team traveled to New Buffalo last Friday and took a 1-0 victory on a last minute goal.

The Panthers had control of the ball for most of the game but New Buffalo’s offside tactic proved to be effective, putting the Panthers into multiple offside calls. In the second half, the Panthers continued pushing and had chances in front of the goal but the finish wasn’t there. With only a few minutes left on the clock, Courtney Van Lente broke away and played a pass to Natalaya Desjardin, who cut across her defender and made a shot that went right past the goalkeeper into the net, for the only goal of the game.

The team goes into district competition this week.

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