Westwood bats erupt in high school softball doubleheader sweep of Houghton

NATIONAL MINE — Westwood ended its softball regular season on a high note after a doubleheader sweep of visiting Houghton on Tuesday.

The Patriots won the afternoon game 14-0 in five innings before an 11-1 six-inning decision in the nightcap.

Westwood ends the regular season with a 19-4 record going into Saturday’s MHSAA Division 3 district tournament semifinal against Negaunee.

The Patriots took Game 1 behind an impressive performance in the pitcher’s circle from Karlie Patron, who came up just one batter short of a perfect game after allowing just one hit and no walks. She struck out five in five innings.

Westwood also cranked out 17 hits, including a home run by freshman Natalie Prophet.

“In the first game, we … scored runs in every inning except one,” Patriots head coach Jared Koski said. “To get 17 hits was great. We hit the ball hard and Karlie pitched a good game. The defense stood tall behind her with just one error. Everyone chipped in.”

Westwood’s only scoreless inning was the third. It was a 3-0 contest at that point before the Patriots rolled up 11 runs in the final two innings to put the mercy rule into effect.

Prophet and Madi Koski each went 3 for 4, Koski getting two doubles.

McKenna McKay had Houghton’s only hit. Josie Connors took the loss in the circle with no strikeouts and three walks.

The nightcap also remained close until the late innings, when the Patriots combined for eight runs over the final two frames.

This game also ended in mercy-rule fashion with Westwood’s two seniors, Katie Wiljanen and Raija Stille. Both contributed on the Patriots’ final two runs, ending their regular-season high school careers in style.

Allie Radcliffe took the rubber for Westwood in Game 2, allowing five hits while fanning two and walking one. Isabelle Cleary took the loss for the Gremlins, allowing 13 hits while striking out two and walking six.

Koski and Ellie Miller each went 3 for 4 at the plate in Game 2 while Radcliffe was 2 for 3. Wiljanen had a double.

McKay was 1 for 2 to lead Houghton again, coming around to score its lone run of the day.

Westwood now looks to the Division 3 district tournament on Saturday, having to prepare for a strong Negaunee squad that is 25-6.

“It’s been a whole season of preparation for the district tourney,” Koski said. “Every team works all year thinking about the tournament. It comes whether you win four games or 24 games. We’ve been preparing for them as they’ve been preparing for us.

“It’s going to be a good battle on Saturday. If someone wants to see a good ball game, they should come and watch.”

Perhaps the most intriguing factor about Saturday’s elimination contest will be the pitching duel. Westwood and Negaunee each have a 1-2 punch in the pitcher’s circle. The Miners have impressed on the rubber all season with the duo of Abby Nelson and Skylar Hall, while Westwood can roll toe-to-toe with Patron and Radcliffe.

“It’s a one-game deal. We’re going to throw who we’re going to throw and they’re going to do the same,” Koski said. “Both teams want to put their best on the field. It’s going to be a great and competitive game and we’ll see how things end up.

“Nobody wants to lose. We have to hope the defense stands tall and the bats get hot. It’s one game where everything needs to be to the best of your ability. We need to minimize our mistakes and capitalize on any they make.”

Westwood and Negaunee square off at 10 a.m. at the Patriots’ Tilden Township Ball Field. Houghton and Calumet follow with their semifinal at noon, with the championship scheduled for 2 p.m.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Spitza. Email him at sports@miningjournal.net.