EAST LANSING — It was all set up for the Hartland softball team.
After three walk-off wins to start the week, the Eagles found themselves trailing in Saturday’s Division 1 state championship game in the seventh inning.
Their 2-3-4 hitters, Clare Minsker, Madelin Skene and Delanie Grundman, were due up.
But it was not to be.
Caledonia pitcher Savannah Gehris retired the Eagles in order, and the Fighting Scots won the game and the title 6-4.
She helped stymie the Eagles with her riseball, which gave them fits throughout the game.
“We tried to lay off that,” Hartland coach Bob Greene said. “Lots of pop-ups We just couldn’t get the ball down. Everything was up in the air.”
And for good reason. Gehris missed low in the first inning to Hartland’s Sam Nagel with the bases loaded. Nagel slammed the pitch to left-center field and cleared the bases, giving Hartland a 3-1 lead.
“I knew she was working high on us, and I wanted to find something to drive,” Nagel said.
The Eagles’ lead held until the third, when two hard-hit infield singles off the glove of Skene at third base with two outs got Caledonia started.
Caledonia’s Taylor Cross then hit a grounder to shortstop Delanie Robeson, whose flip to second baseman Bri Robeson instead went over her head into right field.
The next two hitters reached, and before the Eagles could get off the field the Fighting Scots had scored four unearned runs.
“We had some miscues,” Greene said. “We didn’t play super-clean defense, and no mater who you’re playing, it’s hard to come back from, for sure.”
Meanwhile, Gehris was employing another weapon in her pitching arsenal, an inside fastball that kept tying Hartland hitters up.
“She could really hit that inside corner, and we couldn’t turn fast enough on it,” catcher Brooke Cowan said. “A lot of girls stay up on the plate, and (the inside fastball) cancels out our ability to hit it.”
Freshman pitcher Rachel Everett did her part, striking out nine and walking none.
“She was hitting every single one of her spots,” Cowan said. “She had an amazing game, in my eyes.”
The Scots, meanwhile, went with the pitch, picking up 13 hits, most of them to the opposite field.
“That’s a great game plan,’ Greene said. “They found a lot of spots, some dinkers out there that just made is, and you know what? That’s what it takes. To win this one, sometimes those have to fall. We hit some that didn’t fall.”
After the game, Greene announced that five Eagles were named to the all-state team: Skene, Everett and Bri Robeson made the first team while Nagel and Delaney Grundman were honorable mention.
The game concluded a successful season for the Hartland sports program, which saw both its lacrosse teams reach the Division 1 semifinals and its hockey team win the Division 2 state title.
“I was talking with our athletic director (J.D. Wheeler), and he said kids all over the school, no matter the sport, believe they can get here,” Greene said. “I think this is good. This is more proof of that.”