Dowagiac looking to defend tournament title

Published 8:14 am Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Dowagiac softball team is hoping to follow the same path it took in winning the 2016 Chieftain Invitational Saturday.

The Chieftains played seven games in five days to win its own tournament for the first time in 12 years.

Dowagiac defeated Bridgman 9-1 in the championship game of the Chieftain Invitational after beating Kalamazoo Central 17-2 and Niles 6-3.

Dowagiac will play a pair of doubleheaders today and Thursday leading into the tournament.

The Chieftains (2-0) travel to Decatur for a non-league doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. today and then travel to Sturgis for a Wolverine Conference twin bill against Sturgis, also starting at 4 p.m.

At the Chieftains Invitational Saturday, Dowagiac will play in the Orange Pool against Niles, Elkhart Memorial and Fennville.

The Black Pool will consist of Paw Paw, Bridgman, Watervliet and Kalamazoo Central.

The opening round begins at 10 a.m. with Dowagiac facing Fennville on the the varsity field at Dowagiac Union High School.

“To win our own tournament, we will need to get good pitching, have timely hitting, play some good defense and execute the small things like sacrifice bunting,” said Dowagiac coach Mike Behnke. “We did that last year and won the tournament for the first time in school history.

“I don’t know how all the teams in the tournament will be this year, but I know Niles and Paw Paw are much improved and Bridgman was really good last year. Elkhart Memorial may be a wild card that could surprise some people.”

Niles (1-0) will face Elkhart Memorial on the JV field at the high school in the first round.

“For us to win the tournament we are going to have to have timely hitting and we will need solid pitching performances on a regular basis,” said Niles coach Rick McKeel. “We need to avoid the big innings and we should compete very well. “Dowagiac is the favorite in my book. They have two experienced pitchers in (Taylor) Hulett and (Megan) Solderbloom and hit throughout the lineup.”

The winners of the Dowagiac-Fennville and Niles-Elkhart Memorial games will square off at the varsity field at noon.

The championship game will be played at the high school field at 2 p.m.

Losers from the first round will face each other on the JV field at noon.

Paw Paw will take on Watervliet at Russom Field No. 1, while Bridgman will face Kalamazoo Central on Russom Field No. 2.

Winners from the Paw Paw-Watervliet and Bridgman and Kalamazoo Central games will meet in the other semifinal at Russom Field No. 1 at noon.

Losers from the field round will face off on Russom Field at noon.

Consolation round losers will play at the JV and Russom Field at 2 p.m.

There will be a 90-minute time limit on all games until the championship.

After seven innings or 90 minutes, the International Tiebreaker will be used.

Concessions will be available throughout the day as well as a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Lions Club for $5 and Port-a-Pit chicken available for $7.