Niles softball team goes winless at Clay Invitational; Dowagiac claims crown

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
After not winning a single tournament last year despite going 30-9, the Dowagiac varsity softball team has been on a mission this season.
The Chieftains brought home their third tournament championship of the season as the captured the Clay Invitational on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.
Dowagiac defeated Niles for the third time this season in the opening game, 7-1. The win tied the school record for victories at 35.
Niles was defeated by host Clay in the consolation contest, 4-0.
The Chieftains then set a new school standard as it captured the tournament championship with a 1-0 win over LaPorte, Ind.
Dowagiac did not play its best softball on Saturday. The Chieftains committed five errors against Niles and did not hit the ball well in the LaPorte contest.
Still, Dowagiac's shutout in the title game gave it 28 on the season, second best in state history.
Dowagiac banged out 12 hits in the opening game win against Niles.
Brianne Reist was the hitting star as she went 4-for-4 with a huge home run, a double and two singles. Reist drove in three runs.
Dowagiac also got three hits from Kelly Tomczak and two hits each from Kim Luthringer and Rachael Willis.
Jenna Stuppy went the distance allowing eight hits with six strikeouts and three walks. Stuppy improved her record to 15-2 on the season.
Stephanie Schrader had a triple to lead Niles offensively. Kayla Gross and Merrilee Wuthnow each had two hits for the Lady Vikings.
Crystal Crouch suffered the loss.
Against Clay, the Lady Vikings finished with just two hits. Ashton Parks and Jessica Johnson each had a single.
Kari Eckstein took the loss.
Dowagiac managed only two hits off of LaPorte, but scored the game's lone run in the fourth to earn the victory.
Rachel Minikel completed the game-winning rally with an RBI single. Mandy Parish reached base on an error and pinch runner Sarah Luthringer stole second before scoring on Minikel's single.
Tomczak remained perfect in the circle as she tossed a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and a walk.
Brittney Cotter had both hits for LaPorte.
Dowagiac will open up Division 2 District Tournament play today as it competes in the pre-district contest at Coloma High School.
The Chieftains will face St. Joseph at 5:30 p.m. Dowagiac swept St. Joseph earlier in the year, 3-0 and 9-0.
First Game
Dowagiac 000 101 5 -- 7 12 1
Niles 001 000 0 -- 1 8 2
Jenna Stuppy (W, 15-2); Crystal Crouch (L)
2B: Brianne Reist (D)
3B: Stephanie Schrader (N)
HR: Reist (D)
Championship Game
LaPorte 000 000 0 -- 0 2 1
Dowagiac 000 100 x -- 1 2 1
Kelly Tomczak (W, 20-0); A.J. Harrow (L)
Clay 003 020 0 -- 4 9 2
Niles 000 000 0 -- 0 2 5
Katy Elliot (W, 10-7) and Keutjes; Kari Ecksetein (L) and Nikole Lintz.
2B: Elena Echevarria (C).
Record: Niles 16-18

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