Bucks make it look easy in winning regional title

Published 1:03 pm Monday, June 12, 2023

WATERVLIET — With its pitchers firing strikes and the bats humming, the No. 4-ranked Buchanan softball team had little trouble winning its second Division 3 Regional championship in three years.

Fueled by the memory of a 1-0 loss to Parchment last season in the regional title game, the Bucks blanked Coloma 13-0 in the semifinals before rolling over Kalamazoo Christian in the championship game at Watervliet High School on Saturday.

“Our goal this year was to get back to MSU and give ourselves a chance,” said Buchanan Coach Rachel Carlson. “I am so proud of my players and how they have competed this year — especially in the postseason so far. They are playing focused, loose, and motivated.”

Buchanan, a school record 38-4, advances to the Division 3 Quarterfinals being hosted at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids. The Bucks will face Ravenna (35-5) at 4 p.m. with the winner advancing to Michigan State University for the Division 3 semifinals at 3 p.m. Friday.

With Hailee Kara firing strikes in the circle, the Bucks have been unstoppable in the postseason. Buchanan has allowed just one earned run with a pair of shutout. Bucks’ Coach Rachel Carlson has mixed in Camille Lozmack just enough to keep Kara’s arm fresh. The dynamic duo is one of the reasons Buchanan has outscored its opponents 42-3. The Bucks have raised their 9.2 runs per game average in the regular season to 10.5 runs per contest.

In the semifinals against Coloma, Buchanan had 14 hits, including doubles by Aspen Berry, Bailey Trail, Alyvia Hickok and Camerson Carlson. Kara helped her own cause with a home run.

Buchanan blew the game open with a six-run second inning, which turned a 2-0 lead into an 8-0 rout.

Lozmack, Caitlyn Horvath, Kara, Carlson, Hannah Tompkins and Berry all had two hits. Lozmack drove in three runs with Kara, Tompkins and Berry each driving in a pair of runs.

Kara gave up one hit in her three innings of work with three strikeouts. Lozmack picked the final two innings, allowing two hits and striking out four.

Kara was even better in the championship game against the Comets as scattered six hits and struck out five in going the distance. Kalamazoo Christian’s lone run came on a solo home run in the top off the seventh off the bat of Ellie Hoeksema.

With the two wins, Kara is now 22-3 on the season with an ERA of 1.25. Lozmack is 12-0 with and ERA of 1.76.

Against the Comets, Buchanan slowly, but surely pulled away as it scored twice in the second inning, once in the third, and twice in the fifth and sixth to open up a 7-0 lead.

The Bucks banged out 13 more hits, including four more extra base hits. Hannah Herman, Lozmack and Kara all doubled, while Berry added a triple.

Lozmack, Horvath, Kars. Hickok and Trail all finished with two hits. Carson drove in a pair of runs for the Bucks.

Buchanan now turns its attention to Ravenna, which advanced to the quarterfinals with a 16-0 win over Remus Chippewa Hills and an 8-1 win over Grandville Calvin Christian to win its regional championship.

Carlson said her team just needs keep doing what it has all season long on Tuesday.

“We need to stay the course and make in at-bat adjustments to be successful tomorrow against Ravenna,” she said.