Algonac stunned by Millington in walk-off mode
East Lansing – Algonac softball never made it to the national final, but it was well on its way to securing a spot in the Division 3 title game.
That was until a three-run semi-final Friday against Millington at the Secchia Stadium ended his season instead.
“(We) can’t get that big shot,” Algonac coach Len Perkins said after the 4-3 loss. “We had it right there. We had them where we wanted them, but they hit the ball and that made the difference.”
Algonac entered the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-run lead and sophomore Kenna Bommarito ended Millington’s offense, allowing just one run in the six innings she pitched until ‘That much.
And it was more or less the same in the final image, until it wasn’t. Millington was on his final strike when Ashley Ziel sent a fly ball into left center field space that scored two runs and tied the game at 3.
A batter later, Leah Coleman put a ball into the opposite gap and scored Ziel from first base, dispatching Millington (35-3) in Saturday’s championship game.
After: 2022 State Finals: Your guide to baseball, softball and women’s soccer coverage this weekend
Just before Ziel’s two-run hit, however, Perkins came onto the field and met her pitcher in the circle to get her ready to get out that final.
“(I told him) just throw in strikes and let your defense play,” Perkins said. “But you noticed what happened, they hit the ball where there’s no defense. I mean, those two balls in the fairway (and) in the fairway. If they were ours, we could have made the plays, but they just found the holes at the right time.”
Algonac (33-4) never trailed until the final hit and was in charge for most of the game. Michigan underwriter Ella Stephenson hit a solo home run in the first inning and Jaycee Reams and Brianna Thomason each added an RBI. Algonac, however, left eight runners on base.
“We had our chances and we didn’t get hits in those situations,” Perkins said. “If we had hits there, we would have been five or six to two, or whatever, five or six to nothing, but we didn’t. They did, and we didn’t. ‘have not done, so (you have) to give them credit.’
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Perkins sees a path back to state title contention. Outfielder Anna Sampier, receiver Sophia DuVernay, shortstop Maria Simpson and second baseman Thomason are all seniors, but Algonac will still return much of its production.
Including Bommarito, who has proven to be one of the best pitchers in the state this season, not to be forgotten after Friday’s loss.
“We are losing our seniors,” Perkins said. “They’ve done a good job, but we’ve got a good group coming in. … If they work hard this summer in the offseason, we could have a nice little ball club next year, because our pitchers are all from return.
“We have to replace (some important positions) in the middle of the infield, of course, but we can work. We are working.”