Unranked Edwardsburg knocks off defending state champion Lakeshore

Published 6:24 pm Monday, June 5, 2023

EDWARDSBURG — They say if you are going to take a shot at the king, you better not miss.

Host Edwardsburg took its shot Saturday afternoon and knocked No. 5-ranked Lakeshore out of the state tournament with a 5-1 for the Division 2 District championship.

The Lancers have long been one of the area’s premier softball programs. After all, not only is Lakeshore a perennial conference, district and regional champion, it also own a Michigan High School Athletic Association record eight state titles, including last year’s.

But thanks to the pitching and defense of host Edwardsburg in the championship game on Saturday, there will be a new state champion this season.

Behind the four-hit pitching of Emma Denison and a defense that did not give up an error in the title game, the unranked Eddies, who were co-champions of the Wolverine Conference, will head to Berrien Springs Saturday to face the team they shared the league title with, Vicksburg in the second game of the regional. The Bulldogs are 20-2-1 on the season.

In their two conference meetings in mid-May, Vicksburg won the first game 11-10, while Edwardsburg took the nightcap 14-3.

The winner of that contest will play for the regional title against either Hamilton (33-6) or Wayland (19-9) at approximately 3 p.m.

The Eddies (30-7) reached the championship game Saturday with a 13-2 win over former Wolverine Conference foe Dowagiac in the second semifinal. The Lancers moved into the finals with a 10-0 win over former SMAC West Division foe Niles. (see related story)

In the championship game, with the scored tied 1-1, Edwardsburg scored three runs in the fourth inning to take control.

With one out, back-to-back Lancer errors opened the door for the Eddies, who took full advantage of the situation. Averie Markel reached base on the first error as Lakeshore mishandled her bunt. She moved to third when the Lancers mishandled another bunt, this one from Abby Bossler. Bossler would then steal section and set the state for Lindsey Dalenberg, who, dropped a squeeze bunt down to score Markel, who barely avoided the tag at the plate.

Lani Hardin also bunted and was safe on a fielder’s choice play as Lakeshore held Bossler at third. With two outs, Samanth Baker delivered the decisive blow as singled to score both Dalenberg and Hardin.

The Eddies would add an insurance run in the fifth to extend their lead to four runs before turning it over to Denison to close out the Lancers.

Denison allowed one earned runs on four hits with four strikeouts. She also was 2-for-3 at the plate with a home run and two RBIs. Hardin added a double.

Ava Mullen suffered the loss for the Lancers, who have been eliminated by Edwardsburg from the state tournament in two of the last three years. The Eddies also defeated the Lancers 6-1 in the 2021 regional semifinals.