Updated: Dowagiac faces Niles for fourth time Saturday

Published 10:27 am Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hannah Whitaker and the Dowagiac softball team will travel to Niles to face the Vikings in the opening game of the Division 2 District Tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday. (Leader photo/File)

Hannah Whitaker and the Dowagiac softball team will travel to Niles to face the Vikings in the opening game of the Division 2 District Tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday. (Leader photo/File)

Dowagiac and Niles are no strangers on the softball diamond this season.

The Chieftains and Vikings have met three times in 2015 with Dowagiac winning all of those games.

The two schools will square off again Saturday in the Division 2 District semifinals at Niles’ Vella Park.

Paw Paw and Edwardsburg will open up play at 10 a.m. with Dowagiac vs. Niles following in a rematch of last year’s district semifinal at approximately 12:30 p.m.


Niles vs. Dowagiac

The Chieftains have won all three meetings against the Vikings this year, but each game has been close.

Dowagiac recently swept a doubleheader against the Vikings, winning both by one run.

“To win both our semifinal and the district we are going to have to play near flawless games,” Dowagiac coach Mike Behnke said. “The last time we played Niles we won two one-run games and we had to make some plays to keep them from scoring.”

The Chieftains are led by Taylor Hulett, who is hitting .449 on the year. Megan Soderbloom is hiting .374 with McKenzie Herter and Alyssa Allen batting .364 and .349 respectively.

Hulett and Soderbloom have both won 10 games this season for a Dowagiac squad that is 22-14.

“Edwardsburg is the team to beat,” Behnke said. “They have been scoring runs in bunches all year and they just won the Wolverine Conference Tournament beating Paw Paw in the final.”

The Chieftains will take on the host Vikings in the second game at noon.

Niles has struggled at times under first-year head coach Rick McKeel, but have come on as of late.

The Vikings (10-19) are led by Tegan Bays, who is hitting .378; Kylee Myer, who is hitting .354 with 19 RBIs and Megan McKeel, who is hitting 2.63 and leads the team in extra base hits.

Addison Davies leads the pitching staff. She is 6-7 on the year with 29 strikeouts.

Michelle Crouch is 4-10 with 29 strikeouts.

“We have to hit well, play solid defense and eliminate the big innings,” McKeel said. “We will also need great pitching performances. Districts are a one-day tournament and anybody can get hot for one day. I’m sure we’re the underdog and we are just fine with that.”


Edwardsburg vs. Paw Paw

Edwardsburg will take on Paw Paw in the opening game at Niles’ Vella Park at 10 a.m.

The Eddies and Redskins have played three times this season with Edwardsburg winning two of those games, including a 14-3 win over Paw Paw in the Wolverine Conference Tournament.

The Eddies are 28-7 heading into Saturday’s semifinals.

Offensively, Edwardsburg is led by McKenzie Creed, who is hitting .532 with 25 doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 66 RBIs.

Savannah Dixon is hitting .476 for the Eddies with 13 doubles, four triples, three home runs and 43 RBIs.

Delaney Peters, Hannah Shoupe and Ali Strycker will all more than likely see action in the circle Saturday.

The have combined for 132 strikeouts.

“Our pitchers will have to pitch great for us to win,” Edwardsburg coach Randy Brooks said.

Paw Paw is also 28-7.

The defending district champions are led by Kali Bowen, who is 22-5 in the circle. She is also hitting .484 for the Redskins.

Mackenzie Earl is hitting .521 with 10 home runs. Sarah Wyman is hitting .574 with five home runs and 12 stolen bases.

“We have to keep their hitting limited,” Paw Paw coach Brittany Reist said of the Eddies’ offense. “Kayli needs to hit her spots and keep them guessing on what pitches are coming. We need to be aggressive at the plate, but not allow ourselves to chase pitches out of the zone.”

The championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m.