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Millington stuns Algonac in the final at-bat of state semifinal – By Calli Newberry

By Calli Newberry

The Algonac softball team’s historic season came to a heartbreaking close at Secchia Stadium Friday afternoon.

Photo courtesy of Calli Newberry.

After marching through the regional tournament outscoring opponents 34-0, the Muskrats clinched a spot in the final four with an epic 5-4 victory over Grass Lake in the seventh inning of the quarterfinal. 

And it looked like they’d keep their run going as the seventh inning wound down in the semifinal against Millington. 

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Algonac’s center fielder Ella Stephenson homered on the first pitch she saw in the first inning to take an early lead. That would be the only run of the game through five innings until right fielder Sierra Vosler posted a triple to left field and was later sent home on a single by second baseman Brianna Thomason.

With a 2-0 lead, things were looking good for the Muskrats. 

But Millington responded with a pair of singles in the bottom of the sixth, cutting the lead to 2-1. The Muskrats kept pace, however, with a pair of singles of their own from Stephenson and third baseman Jaycee Reams, giving their defense a bit of cushion with a 3-1 lead. 

Photo courtesy of Calli Newberry.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Cardinals put a couple of runners on base but no harm was done. The Muskrats secured two outs and just needed one more.

That’s when Millington’s pitcher Ashley Ziel singled to center field, sending her two teammates running for their lives around the basepath. The game was now tied, 3-3. 

On the next at-bat, Leah Colman doubled to right field to score the winning run. It was a storybook ending, but not one the Muskrats wanted to read. 

“Just can’t seem to get this big one. We had it right there, we had them right where we wanted them,” Algonac head coach Len Perkins said. “But they hit the ball and we didn’t.” 

Perkins said he had told his pitcher Kenna Bommarito to “just throw strikes and let your defense play. But they hit the ball where there was no defense.”

Photo courtesy of Calli Newberry.

“Right up the alley,” he said. 

The 4-3 loss doesn’t take away from the season the Muskrats had, however. They’d never even won a regional title before, let alone play a tight game with the 2019 Division 3 state champions in the state semifinal. 

They finished the season 32-4, playing well into June, which had been their goal all along. 

A small wooden sign with the phrase, “Why not us?” painted on it traveled with the team to every game this spring. It hung in every dugout as a challenge to themselves, and they rose to the challenge, playing further than any previous Algonac softball team ever had. 

And next season, they’ll look to play just one game more as they return 11 players on its current roster, including Stephenson, Vosler, and Friday’s starting pitcher, Kenna Bommarito who threw 10 strikeouts against 29 batters. 

Photo courtesy of Calli Newberry.

“She did a heck of a job. She’s a good one,” Perkins said of Bommarito. “If they work hard this summer and in the offseason, we could have a pretty nice little ballclub next year too. Our pitchers are all coming back. We’ll have to replace our catcher and shortstop and second baseman, and that’s big time in the middle of the infield, of course, but we can work. We’ll work it.”

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