McGowen’s perfect game leads Brandywine to third regional championship in last four years

Published 4:59 pm Monday, June 14, 2004

By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
HARTFORD -- She didn't even know it was happening, but was relieved when it was over.
Brandywine senior pitcher Nicki McGowen tossed a perfect game as the Bobcats beat Kalamazoo Christian 3-0 Saturday in the final of the Division 3 Softball Regional Tournament at Hartford High School.
McGowen, who has pitched the Bobcats to all three of its recent regional titles, said the latest one was the most nerve-racking of them all.
McGowen, who was ill before the tournament started and throughout the day, struck out 13 batters and helped herself offensively with two singles and a double for one RBI.
Dee Echevarria also aided McGowen's effort with a triple and a double that ended up yielding one of the team's three runs.
Brandywine's first run may have never happened had things gone the way Myers planned them. Nikki Martyniuk came in as a courtesy runner following McGowen's first single in the top of the second inning.
Martyniuk got caught in a rundown between first and second and reached second on an overthrow. She stole third on a passed ball and stole home on another passed ball.
The Bobcats added two more runs in the top of the sixth when Echevarria led off with a double and was moved to third on a sacrifice by Michelle Shoemaker. Echevarria scored when Amber Valentine laid down a bunt single. Valentine scored on McGowen's double to round out the scoring.
The Comets put the ball in play just eight times throughout the game and none were very close to causing trouble for the Brandywine defense.
With the win, and a 4-0 win over Hartford in the semifinals, Brandywine improved to 37-5 on the season, just three wins shy of Lakeshore's Southwest Michigan record of 40 wins.
McGowen is now 35-5 on the year and is in a tie for 10th for most wins in a single season in the entire state. She is also tied for third place for career victories with a record of 133-19. Only Jessica Brubaker of Waterford Kettering (139) and Tracy Carr of Lapeer West (136) have more career victories than McGowen. Finally, she now has 1,165 career strikeouts, which is good enough for seventh place on the state's all-time list.
Brandywine will face Lansing Catholic Central (32-10) in a quarterfinal contest Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Wyoming Park High School. The winner will play Friday at 1 p.m. in the state semifinals in Battle Creek. The Division 3 state championship game is set for Saturday at 1:30 p.m.