Another first for the Dragons.....Regional Champions! They beat Bay City Central in the semi-finals game by a score of 5-2. Then, they beat Alpena by a score of 2-1 in another nail-biter in the finals to win the first ever Regional Championship for the Swartz Creek program. There were so many great defensive plays, outstanding pitching, and some clutch hitting that I only hope I don't leave anything out. Today's victories was another team effort with everybody contributing in some way.
Next up for the Dragons....they'll travel to Central Michigan University to play Hudsonville at Margo Jonker Stadium in the State Quarterfinals for a chance to make it to Bailey Park in Battle Creek to play for a State Championship. Needless to say the girls, coaches, parents, and fans are walking on cloud 9 right now and are very excited about this opportunity! The Dragons overall record now stands at 35-6....OUTSTANDING!!!
Swartz Creek 5 Bay City Central 2
In the top of the first inning the Dragons got 2 quick outs, but rallied for 3 runs starting with a walk to Gabby Deering. Michaela Krusina reached base on an error that move Deering to second. Carah Pletscher's clutch double scored Deering and moved Krusina to third. Emily Weekly came into courtesy run for Pletscher. Another big hit was a single by AJ Brookman that scored both Weekly and Krusina, which is where the inning would end with Creek up 3-0.
In the second inning Hayley Cruthers nearly hit one out to the opposite field and against a strong wind, but was caught on the left-center warning track for a 210' out. The Dragons would not score in the second. Krusina singled in the third, but too was stranded.
In the bottom of the fourth Bay City got on the board using an error, fielder's choice and double to score a run. The Dragons got out of the inning with runners in scoring position on a hard hit ground ball to Cruthers a short stop, who charged the ball as the runner going from second to third collided with her and was called out for runner's interference. A flyout ended the inning with Creek up 3-1.
In the top of the 5th Andrea Aldridge led off with a walk. Cruthers absolutey crushed the ball down the right field line and well over the fence, but it was foul by about 10'. She flied out to left on the next pitch. Hailey Fox ripped a ball to left field off the base of the fence, which would have been another Creek Home Run on any high school field, but the double scored Aldridge. Deering singled to score Fox, which is where the inning would end with Creek up 5-1.
Brookman led off the top of the sixth with a single and Aldridge earned a 2-out walk, but they would be stranded. The Dragons got no other hits going into the bottom of the seventh up 5-1. Bay City fought back with their last at-bats using a single and a couple errors to score a run and had runners on first and second with two outs as the last batter hit the ball to the wrong place. She hit it to Cruthers at short stop who made the throw to Deering and the Dragons recorded their first Regional win ever.
Pletscher pitched an outstanding game for the Dragons with 11 strikeouts, while only giving up 3 hits and one earned run. She continues to up her performance in each and every game and while the opponents are getting tougher and tougher.
Swartz Creek 2 Alpena 1
The Dragons once again showed their ability to battle and win close games while the pressure is on. This game was so close to going against the Dragons, but stellar pitching by Pletscher and several ESPN Top Ten plays by the defense....especially Cruthers, Fox, & Deering....got the win for Creek in very dramatic fashion.
The Dragons lost the coin toss again, which doesn't seem to matter much anyways. They again took a lead in the first inning started by a lead-off 2 strike surprise bunt by Cruthers who took advantage of the corner infielders playing behind the bags again, and easily beat out the throw for a bunt single. That little play proved to be extremely significant in the end! Worried that Cruthers would steal and with Fox squaring to bunt, a passed ball sent Cruthers to second base. Fox then grounded out to the right side of the infield to move Cruthers to third base with one out. With Deering and her reputation of smashing the ball up to bat, the Alpena pitcher was distracted by Cruthers at third. She wound up to pitch, but couldn't take Cruthers off her mind as she performed an illegal pitch....by actually going through her delivery and not releasing the ball. This pitch resulted in a ball to Deering and more importantly Cruthers to move to the next base....home plate to score. Deering eventually reached base on an error as did Krusina behind her. But, they would be stranded and the inning ended with Creek up 1-0.
In the second inning Ashlyn Beck singled with one out. Aldridge hit a line drive to shallow center field, which resulted in Beck getting doubled off at first to end the inning.
In the top of the third Cruthers led off the inning with a single on another peculiar play. The defense was playing for her to pull the ball and moved their short stop directly behind second base with nobody at short stop. The third baseman stayed in her position. The second baseman moved closer to the first baseman. It was like the "Hafner Shift" in major league baseball. The only problem for Alpena was that Cruthers hits the ball hard and evenly to all fields. This too proved costly as Cruthers saw the shift and purposely hit a line drive through the short stop hole to single. A little play that proved to be huge in the end.
Fox did her job again as she grounded out and moved Cruthers to second with one out. Deering singled, but Cruthers could only advance to third base putting runners on the corners. Krusina walked to load the bases. And then Pletscher singled, which proved to be the game winning RBI scoring Cruthers and keeping the bases loaded. And that's where the inning would end with Creek up 2-0.
Not much else happened besides great defense and pitching until the bottom of the fifth inning when Alpena used three singles and a walk to score one run. They had the bases loaded with 2 outs when a hard ground ball was hit to Fox at second base who had to contend with the runner moving in front of her as the ball was nearly upon her. She went to her side and on her knees to smother the ball and quickly throw to first to end the inning. And the Dragons dodged a bullet up now by a score of 2-1.
Another very important inning was the bottom of the sixth as Alpena got a 1 out double and seemed to be gaining momentum. Their team and fans were cheering loud, not to be outdone, the Dragon fans were taking it up another notch in response. The Alpena batter had had a couple of hard hits in the game and was swinging the bat well. And she did again hitting a screaming line drive up the middle about 3' off the ground and tailing downward. Cruthers came from nowhere diving towards second base on her knees and caught the ball in the air, then with the runner who thought she'd score trying to get back to second base Cruthers lept up and ran to second completing the double play and ending the inning. After the roar of the many Dragon fans you could literally hear the hope fading from the Alpena fans and team.
In the top of the seventh Cruthers singled again, this time without the "Hafner Shift", but she would be stranded and the Dragons would head into the bottom of the seventh clinging to a 1 run lead.
In the bottom of the seventh Pletscher and the Dragon D went to work just 3 outs from the championship. It was tense and all players, fans, and coaches were loud. The first batter would hit the ball hard up the middle, but once again Cruthers backhanded the ball and threw the runner out at first. The next batter grounded out to Pletscher, who made a nice quick play again fielding her position well. And the last batter would go down swinging and Creek rushed the field to celebrate another milestone, their first ever Regional Championship.
Pletscher pitched another great game scattering 6 hits with 3 strike outs to get another win.
The Dragons would like to thank all of their fans who travelled to Saginaw to support them today and of course all season long!
They advance to the Quarter Finals this Tuesday at either Noon or 1:00pm. We'll post it at the top of the web site when we know for sure. They will face powerhouse Hudsonville, who just two years ago won the Division 1 State Championship.
GO DRAGONS!!! IT'S THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON!!!!