Richmond's Page All Softball Stories


Richmond rolls into state finals PHOTO GALLERY

Can not load XML: XML document must have a top level element. No results

Swantek double sparks offense against Escanaba

EAST LANSING >> Aunt Deb and her friends in funny hats will play for a state softball championship. Again.

Evelyn Swantek cracked a three-run double, Carley Barjaktarovich had two hits and Erin Shuboy struck out seven to lead Richmond to a 4-2 victory over Escanaba in a state Division 2 semifinal game at Michigan State University on Thursday.

Swantek’s double came during a four-run third inning that gave Richmond an unusually large 4-0 lead, and the Blue Devils went on to their 13th consecutive post-season victory to earn a return spot in the title game that will be played at 10 a.m. Saturday at MSU’s Secchia Stadium.

“It was very nice to see us get that cushion early on,” Barjaktarovich said. “It was nice to have that feeling that we’ve got a couple of runs. Everybody could get rid of their jitters out there.”

Escanaba, playing Richmond in the semifinals for the second consecutive year, scored twice in the fifth to cut the Blue Devils’ lead in half, but otherwise Shuboy was in control.

“We weathered it,” Richmond coach Howard Stuart said of the Eskymos’ two-run inning. “It didn’t shake the team.”

Shuboy, a right-hander who is 6-0 in this tournament after throwing a no-hitter in the 2016 state final, got the nickname Aunt Deb from Stuart.

“We have nicknames for everybody,” Barjaktarovich said. “It pulls everybody together.”

And the Blue Devils, who are 33-4, have an assortment of hats to wear in the dugout – another mood-brightening habit, Barjaktarovich said.

“This year we decided to go with the country theme and wear cowboy hats,” the junior shortstop and leadoff batter said. “This is a special group of girls. Everybody is relaxed and has a good time.”

Richmond played three consecutive extra-inning games before taking on Escanaba.

The Blue Devils didn’t score more than two runs in regulation play in any of those games, but that trend changed when Swantek strode into a pitch with the bases loaded in the third.

Her line-drive double to right-center cleared the bases and gave Richmond a 4-0 lead.

“I haven’t been hitting good lately,” Swantek, a junior catcher, said. “I heard my team yelling for me in the dugout, and I knew it was time. It was time to hit it.

“I was looking to crush it. It felt great.”

Barjaktarovich, Amy Thueme and Emma Caperton scored on Swantek’s hit, which came after Kennedy Caperton scored on a fielder’s choice.

Emily Bruntjens and Lex Chaillier drove in a run apiece for the Eskymos, who got four hits.

Richmond finished with five hits against starting pitcher Katie Ross and reliever Gabbi Salo, who went three innings apiece.

“We just had one good inning,” Stuart said. “We got lucky.”

Seniors Caperton and Raechel McKiernan had a hit apiece for Richmond.

The Blue Devils will meet Ida for the Division 2 state championship. Ida last appeared in a state title game in 2006 in D3.

Ida beat Stevensville Lakeshore, 3-2, on Thursday to advance.

Last Updated: 6/15/2017 1:21:53 PM EST