Redettes fall just short in district final

By Journal Sports Staff

ALPENA — Marquette came within one strike of winning its third consecutive MHSAA Division 1 district tournament softball title on Friday, but it wasn’t to be.

Traverse City Central rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to pull out a 4-3 victory in the championship game in Alpena.

Earlier, the Redettes survived seven innings of scoreless ball to grab an eight-inning, 3-0 victory over the host Wildcats.

In the final, MSHS senior pitcher Chelsea Wiggins had gotten the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh as a TCC runner reached second base. On a 1-2 count to Sarah Ullom, a close pitch was called a ball, and a few pitches later, she sent a double to left-center to score a run that cut Marquette’s lead to 3-2.

The following batter, Lily Briggs, also doubled to tie the score 3-3 before one last double hit on another 1-2 count by Haley McDonald brought home the winner.

“We have a young team, and we left 13 runners on base,” Marquette coach Paul Seibert said. “We let them hang around, and they came up with the big hits to get the win.

“But since we have a lot of young players and some injuries to key veterans earlier in the season, the girls really had to grow up during the season.”

That would explain the Redettes more than modest 12-24 final record.

“Any time you beat Alpena, with what I think was a 31-7 record, you’re doing well,” Seibert said of the opener.

TC Central (26-13) advances to the Division 1 regionals at Saginaw Valley State University next Saturday.

In the final, Wiggins struck out 13 while not walking any and allowing eight hits. She also hit a two-run homer in the top of the first to get her team off to a fast start.

Winning hurler Olivia Fiebing also went the distance, allowing 13 hits and two walks while fanning 10.

Marquette’s Hannah Bulinski was 3 for 5, scoring twice and stealing two bases. Teammate Ashlyn Steer was 3 for 3 with a walk and Megan McIntire 2 for 4 with a triple.

Bulinski, who scored in front of Wiggins on her first-inning homer, singled to open the second inning and came around to score again on a stolen base and infield error.

In the opener against Alpena, Wiggins again went the distance, striking out 12 in eight innings, walking one and allowing three hits.

That included the bottom of the eighth, when she struck the first two batters out and got the third to hit a pop-up to Bulinski at shortstop to end the game.

Losing hurler Jade Schultz pitched the eighth and gave up all three runs on three hits though she struck out two. Starter Emma Fraser blanked MSHS for seven innings, allowing two hits and four walks while fanning 10.

Wiggins again supplied her own power at the plate, cranking a three-run homer over the centerfield fence with one out in the eighth and also hitting a double. Bulinski and Kaleigh Duncan also had hits.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.