Early mistakes cost Eddies in regional semifinal loss

Published 11:59 am Sunday, June 11, 2023

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BERRIEN SPRINGS —Edwardsburg softball coach Dean Dixon knew his ball club would have to be flawless to upend Vicksburg in Saturday’s Division 2 regional semifinal clash.

Unfortunately, Vicksburg was able to capitalize on a few defensive mistakes by Edwardsburg in crucial innings en route to a 9-4 win.

Vicksburg (22-2-1) went on to beat Hamilton, which edged Wayland 4-2 in the other semifinal, 4-1 in the championship.

Edwardsburg finishes 30-8, including a share of the Wolverine Conference title with Vicksburg, the two league foes split a doubleheader during the regular season. The Eddies, however, went on to capture a district crown, which included a 5-1 upset of defending state champion Lakeshore in the district finals.

“Today was a tough loss for us, but at this level you have to be flawless. We didn’t play defense or pitch as well as we needed to today in order to win,” Dixon said. “As a coaching staff, we were very thankful for the opportunity to be around these girls. Sometimes you just come up short. We had a great season and played a heckuva tough schedule with 16 games against state-ranked teams.”

Vicksburg, which advances to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. state quarterfinal at Kalamazoo College, built a 4-0 lead after the top of the first inning.

Maddison Diekman reached first on an throwing error by Edwardsburg shortstop. Caitlin Tighe. Diekman ended up on second on the overthrow and she later stole third base before scoring after Peyton Smith walked with the bases loaded. The next two Vicksburg hitters, Kayla Chisholm and Audrie Dugan, were both hit by pitches with Brooklyn Ringler and Delaney Monroe each tallying a run for the Bulldogs. Smith scored the Bulldogs’ fourth run in the frame on Kennedy Davis’ RBI single.

Edwardsburg tallied once in the bottom of the first, chipping its deficit to 4-1. The Eddies’ lead-off hitter, Samantha Baker, reached safely when Vicksburg first baseman Dugan took her foot off the bag before making the tag. Baker made it over to third on a one-out double by Sydney Klaer and later scored when Eddies’ pitcher Emma Denison hit into a fielder’s choice.

The Eddies whittled the Bulldogs’ lead to 4-2 after scoring a single run in the bottom of the second.

Bossler led off the frame with a single, went to second on a fielder’s choice, advanced to third on Lexi Hardin’s single and scored when Baker laced a single to right field.

Vicksburg’s Emily Zemitans’ three-run homer over the left-field fence scored Chisolm and Davis, increasing the Bulldogs’ cushion to 7-2 after the top of the third.

Edwardsburg pulled within three runs, 7-4, after scoring twice in its half of the fifth.

The Eddies’ Averie Markel sent a pitch from Davis, Vicksburg’s pitcher, over the centerfield fence to score Denison.

Vicksburg recorded its final two runs in the top of the sixth.

Diekman cranked out a triple before scoring on a passed ball. Elie Luegge tallied the other Bulldog run on an error.

Davis tossed a complete game in the win for Vicksburg. The Bulldog senior surrendered eight hits and struck out one.

Denison suffered the loss for the Eddies, yielding six hits, four walks, seven strikeouts and she hit four Bulldog hitters.

“Emma pitched in the regionals last year in our loss to Parchment so we felt confident with her out there for us,” Dixon said. “Unfortunately, we made some key mistakes behind her today.”

Edwardsburg was charged with two errors and Vicksburg committed just one miscue.

The Eddies stranded a total of six baserunners while the Bulldogs left seven on base.

The game was the final one in the careers of Edwardsburg seniors Baker, Bossler, Markel, Dennison and Dalenberg.

Vicksburg advances to the state quarterfinals for the first time since head coach Paul Gephart’s 2016 Bulldogs’ squad finished as state-runnerup.

“We got great hitting from everyone in our lineup. It was really nice to see our No. 9 hitter Emily (Zemitans) hit a home run tpday,” Gephart said.

“Their pitcher (Denison) threw a lot of balls in the early innings and we took advantage of that by jumping on them. Edwardsburg is good hitting team and I thought our pitcher (Davis) did a great job throwing today. She has a really good curve and screw ball that she puts some spin on. Defensively we made very few mistakes.”