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Richmond defense shines in run to semifinals PHOTO GALLERY

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Blue Devils meet Escanaba for berth in championship game

Uncertainty reigns in the state softball tournament.

Coach Howard Stuart expected Richmond to carry its strong hitting from the regular season, but it hasn’t worked that way even though the Blue Devils are in the Division 2 semifinals.

Richmond scored four runs against Dearborn Divine Child in a quarterfinal. Three of them came in the eighth inning, after the teams battled to a 1-1 deadlock through the regulation seven innings at Novi on Tuesday.

In four district and regional games, the Blue Devils’ run totals were 2, 10, 1 and 2, and two of those games went extra innings.

“You just never know what’s going to happen in the tournament,” Stuart said before Richmond’s 4-2 victory over Divine Child.

Outfielder Emma Caperton, whose RBI single broke the 1-1 tie against Divine Child, said the Blue Devils are comfortable playing close games, even ones that go beyond seven innings.

“We had the same situation in the post-season last year,” she said. “I’m pretty used to it.

“You’ve just got to keep your spirit up, keep the enthusiasm going.”

Caperton reached up to catch a fly for the second out of the eighth inning against Divine Child. The well-hit ball and her catch in left field, which came with a runner on base, drew an audible reaction from Richmond fans.

“I had to switch up on it a little bit,” Caperton said, downplaying the catch. “It was a routine fly.”

But there was no doubt defense was a factor in the eighth.

Caperton didn’t let that ball get past her. Meanwhile, Divine Child made multiple errors as Richmond scored three times in the top of the inning.

“Defense, I think, is our strong suit right now,” Caperton said.

“We were a great hitting team early on in the year. We’ve cleaned up our defense.”

Richmond met Divine Child in the quarterfinals this year and last.

Another rematch awaits the Blue Devils (32-4) in the state semifinals. They play Escanaba at 10 a.m. Thursday at Michigan State University (tickets $8). Richmond beat the Eskymos 6-2 last year to advance to the title game.

But there is a significant difference year-over-year.

“We’re the target this year because we won last year,” Caperton said.

“It’s a great feeling to know we’re in the semifinals again. We have a great support system, including the girls who were on the team in previous years.”

Escanaba (33-4) is led by outfielders Lexi Chaillier and Emily Bruntjens and pitcher Katie Ross, a senior who has a 1.91 ERA.

The Eskymos defeated top-ranked Saginaw Swan Valley in the quarterfinals. They beat Ford, a 29-game winner from the MAC Red Division, during the regular season.

Stevensville Lakeshore plays Ida in the other semifinal at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Semifinal winners meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at MSU for the state championship.

Last Updated: 6/14/2017 3:55:20 PM EST