Softball districts looking to be very intense

Published 3:21 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Defending district champion Brandywine will be looking to win its seventh consecutive Division 3 title on Saturday in Berrien Springs.
The Lady Bobcats (25-8) won their seventh straight Lakeland Conference title earlier this month despite losing standout pitcher Nicki McGowen along with several other top players from a squad that was runner-up in Division 3 last season.
Brandywine, ranked No. 4 in Division 3, will come into the tournament as the favorite, however, Lakeland Conference foe Buchanan could provide the Lady Bobcats with their most serious challenge.
The Lady Bucks are 25-11 on the season and have won 14 out of their last 17 games including this past weekend's Bronson Invitational.
Brandywine is led by junior pitcher Kelli Zache, who is 20-5 on the season with 222 strike outs in 166 innings of work.
Zache is also the Lady Bobcats' top offensive threat with a .388 batting average and 20 RBIs.
Sister, freshman Kendra Zache is hitting .348. Also hitting over .300 for Brandywine are Amanda Grice (.303) and Dee Echevarria (.302).
Buchanan is led by pitcher Ashley Pointer who is 22-10 with an earned run average of 1.30.
Offensively the Lady Bucks are led by Emily Ross who is hitting .360.
The Division 3 district tournament begins today in Berrien Springs with the host Lady Shamrocks facing Bridgman at 4:30 p.m.
Brandywine will play the winner of the pre-district contest on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Buchanan, which also received a bye, will face River Valley in the opening game on Saturday at 10 a.m.
The finals are set for 1 p.m.
Division 2
Niles received a bye and will take on defending Division 2 state champion Lakeshore at 10 a.m.
The Lady Vikings are 10-23 on the season. Niles dropped a pair of decision to Lakeshore during the regular season.
Niles is led by Kate Whittaker who is hitting .425 with 20 RBIs. Other top offensive performers are Julie Kater (.344) and Stephanee Schrader (.322). Schrader has 21 RBIs on the season.
Kater is the Lady Vikings' top pitcher.
Dowagiac and St. Joseph will open up tournament play today at 4:30 p.m. in the pre-district contest held in Stevensville at Lakeshore High School.
The Chieftains, ranked No. 6 in Division 2, has defeated every team in the tourmament twice with the exception of Edwardsburg (16-13), which they have not faced.
The Eddies will take on the winner of the Dowagiac-St. Joseph contest on Saturday at noon.
Dowagiac is led by pitcher Brittney Reist who is 13-2 on the season with an ERA of 0.88. Offensively, the Chieftains are paced by All-State catcher Mandy Parish who is hitting .405 with 28 RBIs. The finals are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.