ST. JOSEPH — The Bridgman High School baseball and softball teams rode late-season victories to BCS White Division Conference titles.
The Bee baseball team had already clinched the league crown by the time they took on Michigan Lutheran on the chilly afternoon of May 28.
Nevertheless the Bees rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win the opener at Michigan Lutheran 2-1. A fifth-inning walk by Nick Greco, Nate Necas’ run-scoring single, and a sacrifice fly from Jayce Warren provided the tying and winning runs.
Dylan Reisig, the winning pitcher, made a tough throw to first base for the final out.
The Titans bounced back with a late rally to take the nightcap 6-5 – it was Bridgman’s only league loss of the season (they finished 17-1 and 28-4 overall). Michigan Lutheran will play in the June 5 Division 4 district tournament hosted by River Valley.
Bridgman is scheduled to host Brandywine on June 1 in a Division 3 pre-district game with the victor advancing to the June 5 baseball tournament in Bridgman.
On the softball side the Bees needed to win both May 28 contests at Michigan Lutheran to win the BCS White Division crown outright since they came in leading River Valley by a single game.
A pair of shutouts (by 14-0 and 16-0 scores) delivered the conference title to the Bees.
“I’m really excited,” said junior player Bri Russell. “ We all worked really hard this season and I think it paid off.”
Bridgman won the BCS Red Division title in 2019.
“We didn’t get to play last year, so it means a lot to me that we got to come out here as a team and just dominate,” noted Sophomore Emme Slavens.
In the opener Bridgman scored once in the first inning (an Arie Hackett walk and Natalee McNeil’s RBI single) and again in the second (Emme Slavens’ double and an Elise Schamltz sacrifice fly) before blowing the game open with a 12-run fourth that included a Slavens single, hits by Hackett and Kaylee Shuler, a two-run double off the bat of McNeil, Hannah Johnson’s two-run homer, a single by Bella Gearhart, a Slavens double, an infield single by Bri Russell, Schmaltz’s RBI single, a run-scoring hit by Hackett, and a two-run single from Shuler.
McNeil struck out 8 while pitching a no-hitter over five innings.
The second game included a first-inning three-run home run by Johnson, two doubles and two RBI by Slavens, a double and two runs batted in by Haley Kanous, a two-run double by Slavens, an RBI single off the bat of Schmaltz, Shuler’s two-run base hit, and a two RBI hit by McNeil.
Johnson struck out five and yielded three hits over three innings.
Coach Elaine Starbuck said the two big offensive innings (one in each game) helped the Bees get the wins.
River Valley’s softball team kept the pressure on during the last week of the season, sweeping doubleheaders against Lake Michigan Catholic (14-4 and 16-1 on May 25); Eau Claire (16-0, 17-4 on May 26); and Howardsville Christian (by 12-0, 16-0 scores on May 27).
In the opener against LMC the Mustangs fell behind 4-0 before rallying to score 14 unanswered runs.
Valley pulled even in its half of the first inning as Kora Kennedy drove in two runs. Emily Reitz later helped RV build a lead with a run-scoring single.
River Valley faced New Buffalo in a June 1 Division 4 pre-district game. THe host Bison were without starting pitcher Ava Mullen due to injury, and the Mustangs ended up prevailing 15-0 (winning pitcher Macey Springer hit a home run during the game).
River Valley advances to the June 5 district softball tourney at Bridgman to first take on Lake Michigan Catholic. The host Bees are scheduled to play Michigan Lutheran in the other semifinal.
The River Valley baseball team warmed up for the postseason on May 25 by sweeping past Lake Michigan Catholic 12-2 (Gavyn Rogers had two hits and three runs batted in while Alex Patton pitched a no-hitter) and 18-3 (Evan Strefling struck out 10 in four innings while Ryder Wolnik drove in four runs).
On May 26 the Mustangs took two from Eau Claire by 18-3 and 14-4 tallies.
RV coach David Sokolowski said the Mustangs have had their ups and downs this season, with the ups including a recent sweep of Holton.
“We played really, really well. That was some of our best baseball we’ve played all season.”