Morenci baseball: It wasn’t just Morenci coach Roger Pontious who was pleased with his squad’s showing Saturday against Lenawee Christian School.
The LCS coach and the Summerfield coach also spoke highly of the Bulldogs’ performance.
Morenci ended up on the short end of a 9-4 score in their district opener, but they held the Cougars in check with a 5-4 score going into the sixth inning.
That’s when LCS changed pitchers and Morenci’s hurler ran into some trouble.
“It was a great turn-around from before,” Pontious said in reference to a game earlier in the season when the Cougars crushed Morenci.
The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead after Anthony Barron socked the opening pitch into left field for a double and scored on a fielder’s choice.
Morenci added one more in the second when Brett Bovee was hit by a pitch and scored after Cody Long hit a fly out at the center field fence. That made the score 3-2 and Barron took over on the mound from starter Devin Martinez.
The Cougars went on top 5-2 until Nick Wilson closed the gap with a two-run homer.
“That was the longest home run I’ve seen this season,” Pontious said.
Someone retrieved the ball out of the woods beyond Whiteford’s fence and got it back to Wilson. His homer also scored Loren Delmonico who reached base on a walk.
LCS put the game away in its half of the sixth on a combination of hits and walks. Steven Pontious took over on the mound to finish off the inning.
“Our record doesn’t show it, but the kids did a good job,” Coach Pontious said. “The kids know what they can do.”
BD—Morenci finished the league season May 27 with a narrow 7-6 loss to Britton-Deerfield, a team that won its district championship Saturday.
The Bulldogs let a 6-5 lead slip away in the fifth inning.
Morenci scored two in the first on only one base hit, from Barron, and added four more in the second. Barron, Pontious and Martinez each singled and Wilson had a two-RBI double.
Morenci made an error on a pick-off attempt in the fifth that tied the game, and the winning run scored on a passed ball.
Barron struck out 11 batters but walked nine.
At the plate, he batted three for four with two runs. Pontious also scored twice.
Morenci Softball: Beware of falling giants: Two top-ranked teams played their final games of the season Saturday at Whiteford.
Whiteford (17-17) got the day going by dropping number one ranked Summerfield (22-8) with a 1-0 surprise. Morenci was next, toppling number four Lenawee Christian School (27-5) in a 5-1 victory.
In the finals, the Bulldogs found a way to get past Whiteford to win their first district championship since 2004, back when this year’s three senior members of the team were freshmen.
It’s time to forget about all those things that happened earlier in the season. Now it’s the tournament season and an entirely new world for the 22-12 Morenci softball squad.
The Bulldogs defeated two teams that knocked them down earlier in the season, using solid pitching, good hitting and, as always in softball, a little good fortune.
It was a great day of softball, said Morenci coach Kay Johnson, reminiscent of some former years with clutch plays, vocal fans and a trophy at the end of the day.
She was impressed with the play overall, noting that no errors were committed by any of the four squads throughout the day.
“That’s impressive for high school softball,” she said.
The Bulldogs move on to regional competition Saturday at Summerfield High School to face Ann Arbor Greenhills.
In the finals Saturday, Morenci and Whiteford played a 0-0 tie for three innings. A Bobcat batter was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning and scored on a bunt, but Morenci soon answered with two runs.
Nicolette Swimmer was hit by a pitch and Tess Ramsey reached base when she drove a liner that hit Whiteford’s pitcher hard on the knee. The Bobcat stayed in the game, but her performance was never the same.
Salena Martinez followed with a two-run triple to right center, right over the head of the outfielder.
Morenci padded the lead with three more in the sixth.
Swimmer drew a walk and Ramsey was safe on a bunt. Swimmer scored on a wild pitch and then Martinez was safe on a bunt. A walk to Meghan Smith loaded the bases for Megan Cox, who popped a two-run single for the 5-1 lead.
Jade Pfund fanned the last batter to clinch the Morenci win.
Pfund, a junior, was strong all day, Coach Johnson said. She gave up only four hits—two in each game—and struck out a total of 15.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the sixth, Morenci came through with one big inning to turn the game around.
Brooke Barrett led off with a triple and Pfund reached base on a bunt. The Cougar fielder tried to draw Barrett off the bag with a fake throw, but Johnson expected that might be coming.
Swimmer hit a blooper over first base for one run and Ramsey reached base t o load them up. With the infield in tight, the Cougar defense couldn’t get back fast enough to field a hit by Martinez and two runs scored.
Mariah Bovee hit a ground ball to score Tia Tompkins, who was running for Martinez.
LCS had its top of the order at bat in the sixth, but Pfund struck one batter and Bovee fielded two ground balls for the other two outs.
Pfund ended the game just she started it, striking out all three batters she faced.
Regional: There were no strangers at the district tournament last weekend. Morenci had faced everyone there earlier in the season. That won’t be the case Saturday at Summerfield.
Camden-Frontier (23-5) brings the best record into regional play, taking on Homer (16-14) at 10 a.m. Morenci (22-12) faces Ann Arbor Greenhills (10-12) a half hour after the first game ends. The finals will begin 30 minutes after that game.
Bulldog coach Kay Johnson doesn’t yet know much about the regional opponents yet, but she’s learning what she can.
It wasn’t just Summerfield and Lenawee Christian School from the top 10 who fell in district play Saturday. Only four from the top rankings remain: Bay City All Saints, number 3; Coleman, number 7; Cassopolis, number 8; and Onaway, number 10.
The winner of the regional tournament travels to the quarterfinal contest Tuesday at Adrian College.
Morenci track: Five events and four medals, plus a tied school record to boot. Not a bad day for Morenci’s state track and field qualifiers.
Not everyone was pleased with their performances, said Bulldog coach Brad Brown, but there were some good performances nonetheless.
Freshman high jumper Phoenix Duncan didn’t match her best of the season, but her tie for sixth place at 5-0 gave her all-state honors.
Brown told her that if she cleared the first two heights without a miss, she would likely earn a medal, and that’s what she did. But that’s where it ended.
Sarah MacCourtney of Lutheran Northwest cleared 5-5 to win and four others made it over 5-2—a height that Duncan has made more than once this season.
Lucas Johnson wasn’t near his best in the discus, either, with a toss of 132-1.
“Still,” Brown said, “to finish seventh in the state is really nothing to be ashamed of.”
Beal City’s Jake Ramon won the event with a 158-4. Johnson will return next year in quest of a higher finish.
Morenci’s 400-meter relay team—Brandon Correa, Chas Frey, Reese Graham and Justin Swett—went to Grand Rapids ranked 22nd and finished with an all-state medal for eighth place. Subtracting the standard 0:24 seconds for the automatic timer, Brown said, the team ran a :45.2.
That ties the school record set in 1995 by Chris Mansfield, Michael Relyea, Greg Dubois and Jay Gilmore, Coach Brown said.
Zach Phillips’s 800-meter run at regionals was far from his best and put him in the slow heat with a 22nd ranking. He led for most of his race until he was passed at the end, but his time of 2:03.7 placed him at 13th, less than a second out of all-state range.
“Unfortunately, he and Matt Rau ran alone in a strong wind. He needed a pack to break the wind.”
The junior set a new 1600-meter record earlier in the week and he’ll return next year to go after the 800 mark.
Pittsford’s Jon Hatfield was the state champ with a 1:59.49.
Chas Frey nipped a competitor at the finish of the 200-meter dash semifinals to make it into the finals, guaranteeing a medal in his first state meet appearance.
“He was in a loaded heat, too,” Coach Brown noted.
His eighth-place finish gave him his second medal of the day.
COUNTY MEET—Phillips was the 1600-meter county champion in the DTII county meet May 27 at 4:31.2 and Duncan was best in the high jump at 5-2.
Other placers were Johnson in the discus (2nd, 142-6.5); Alex Burton in the 110-meter hurdles (3rd, :16.3); Frey in the 100-meter dash (3rd, :11.2) and 200-meter dash (3rd, :23.6); Swett in the 100-meter dash (6th, :12.0); the 400-meter relay team (3rd, :46.2); 1600-meter relay team (2nd, 3:37);
Nichole Elarton in the discus (2nd, 100-5.5); Duncan in the long jump (6th, 15-0); Kate Gallup in the 100-meter hurdles (6th, :17.8) and the 800-meter relay team (6th, 1:58.6).