Niles bows out to Chiefs

Published 3:49 pm Wednesday, June 2, 2004

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
ST. JOSEPH -- The Dowagiac varsity softball team took its first step toward a potential Division 2 district championship with a 6-0 win over pesky Niles on Tuesday.
The Chieftains used good pitching, outstanding defense and timely hitting to defeat Niles for the third time this season.
For all practical purposes the game was won, and lost, in the second inning.
Dowagiac (27-11) took advantage of Niles mistakes in the top half of the second inning to score the game's first two runs, and then stopped a potential Lady Vikings rally in the bottom of the frame with some outstanding defense.
The biggest play of the game didn't go down as an error, but when Amy Wood stole third base, her second steal of the inning, that allowed Dowagiac to get on the scoreboard.
Niles recorded the first two outs of the inning before designated player Lindsay Tyler drew a walk. Wood, who Tyler was hitting for, came on and stole second.
When Brittany Winters drew a walk, Wood stole third base as the throw handcufffed Niles third baseman Kayla Gross.
With runners at second and third, Niles drew in its infield and its outfield despite the fact that there were two outs for Dowagiac's Holly Lowe.
Lowe ripped a double over the head of the drawn in outfield allowing both Wood and Winters to score.
Niles (14-14) appeared to be in a position to rally in the bottom of the second inning, but it was Wood again who was a thorn in the Lady Vikings' side.
Wood made a diving catch between the pitching circle and second base with runners at first and second for Niles, ending the scoring threat.
Niles coach Jim Arnold agreed.
Dowagiac added three runs in the third inning as Sarah Luthringer singled to drive in a pair of runs and then came around to score on a Niles error.
The final run of the game came in the fifth inning when Tyler hit a deep fly ball to left field to score courtesy runner Brittany Bruens.
Brittney Reist earned the victory with relief help from Ashley Willis, who pitched the sixth and seventh for the Chieftains.
Kari Eckstein took the loss for the Lady Vikings.
Dowagiac will now face Coloma (27-8) in the second semifinal (at noon) on Saturday in St. Joseph.
Lakeshore, who has won eight of the last nine district championships, will take on St. Joseph in the 10 a.m. semifinal.
The Lady Lancers are 28-5 on the year, while the Lady Bears are 29-7 entering the contest.