The trip to Central Michigan University to play in the Quarter Finals against Hudsonville would prove to be the last trip for the season. 158 Division 1 teams began the season with the goal of making it to States. Swartz Creek made the "Elite Eight", but beyond that was not meant to be this year. Still they played great defense and kept the game within reach to the end, but just could not get the bats going today in Mt. Pleasant. The team can walk with their heads high knowing that they gave their best effort and just lost to a better team today.
With the removal of the 3 inning game of Grand Blanc where Creek was leading 7-1 as the game was called due to darkness, the overall record for the Dragons was 34-7. The success of this team has been documented well. They won the 3 tournaments they played, the Flint Metro League Championship, the District Championship, and the Regional Championship. They beat many ranked teams this season and earned the respect of their peers and opponents. The ladies and coaches sure have plenty to be proud of this season. Tomorrow evening is the softball awards banquet (7pm) and it will be a celebration of a dream season.
Hudsonville 4 Swartz Creek 2
In the top of the first inning Hudsonville strung together a couple of singles creating a scoring threat with one out, but Creek would leave them on the bases with a flyout and ground out.
Hayley Cruthers led off in the bottom of the first with a single up the middle. Gabby Deering reached base on an error with one out with Cruthers moving to second base, but they would be stranded as the Hudsonville pitcher ended up striking out the side.
1-2-3 innings for both teams in the second inning kept the game scoreless going into the third inning.
A lead-off double by the Eagles made it look like they may score the first run of the game. A swinging bunt ground out to the pitcher Carah Pletscher moved the runner to third base with one out. The next batter ripped a line drive about a foot off the ground between short stop and third base in which the short stop Cruthers lunged to her right diving down to her knees catching the ball, then quickly tossing to Hanna Sayles on third to complete the double play and stop the Eagles from scoring.
In the bottom of the third with one down Cruthers hit a long fly ball to just to the left of center field and off the base of the 220' fence for a double. She then advanced to third base on a wild pitch. With 2 outs Gabby Deering hit a hard single between the short stop and third baseman to score Cruthers and give them the lead 1-0. Emily Weekly came into pinch run for Deering, but would be stranded.
And then in the top of the fourth inning the Eagles bats got hot rattling off 6 singles to take a 4-1 lead with runners on first and second and 1 out. AJ Brookman came into to relieve Pletscher who moved to third to take Sayles spot and Emily Rodriguez coming into play Right Field. Brookman gave up a single to load the bases, but worked out of the jam on a ground ball to third that resulted in a fielder's choice force out at home that also reloaded the bases. With 2 outs the last batter grounded out to Cruthers who fired the ball over to Deering at first base to end the inning and prevent any more scoring for the Eagles.
The Dragons came back in the bottom of the inning to get a run and cut the score to 4-2. Brookman reached base on an infield error that sent her down to second base. She advanced to third on a failed pick-off attempt with two outs. Ashlyn Beck singled to score Brookman. Andrea Aldridge walked to put runners on first and second, but a ground ball to shortstop who flipped it to third for the force out ended the inning.
A walk for the Eagles and sacrifice bunt put a runner at second with one away in the top of the fifth. The Dragons turned another double play on a hard grounder to Pletscher at third base who gunned the ball to Deering at first base who threw a dart back to Cruthers covering third base tagging out the sliding runner and ending the inning.
The Eagles threatened again in the top of the seventh with a one-out triple and walk, but Brookman worked out of that jam with a ground out and strikeout.
The Dragons were down to their final at-bats in the seventh that started out promising against the Eagles relief pitcher with a lead off single from Beck. But, 2 strikeouts and a flyout ended that comeback attempt giving the Eagles the win and ending the dream season for the Dragons. As you can well imagine the moment was very emotional and disappointing for the team who had believed their way to a 34-7 record, the best season ever for the softball program.
The Dragons would like to thank all of their fans for their support. They made the trip all the way to CMU and filled the stands again today to cheer on the team.