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Salisbury stakes Dakota to an early lead PHOTO GALLERY

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Senior gets three RBI in 4-3 win

EAST LANSING >> Speak softly and carry a big stick.

Whose quote is that, Teddy Roosevelt or Julia Salisbury?

Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States.

Salisbury is a graduating senior on the Dakota softball team.

Both adhered to that edict,

“Julia is a very quiet person,” said her coach, Rick Fontaine.

Verbally, maybe. But put a bat in her hands and the volume is cranked way, way up. Her actions speak very, very loudly.

Salibury had three hits and knocked in three runs in the Cougars’ 4-3 victory over Grandville in the Division 1 state championship game played at Secchia Stadium on the Michigan State University campus Saturday.

That game went eight innings and ended when Kattie Popko scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the final inning.

Dakota, which ended the regular season ranked number one in Division 1, scored its first two runs in the opening inning. Corbin Hison reached on an error. She moved to second on a single by Popko, and they both came home on Salisbury’s double in the gap.

It was a single by Salisbury in the third inning that brought home Popko, who had ripped a two-out double.

“She’s just been one of our most clutch hitters,” said Rick Fontaine, the Dakota coach. “Last year in the playoffs she was huge. She is our cleanup hitter for a reason. She is just resilient at the plate. She will not let herself strike out. She puts the ball in play. She came up huge today. She is a very quiet kid.”

This was Dakota’s second visit to the championship game in two years. The Cougars fell to Mercy, 4-0, in 2016.

“Last year we came and we fought hard but we wound up as runner-ups. This year we really wanted it,” said Salisbury, who played first base for the Cougars. “Last year we were just surprised because we wanted it so badly and we ended up second. Last year, we came off the field all disappointed. Everyone was just down. The season was over and done with. This year we just fought and fought and fought. We wanted it so badly.

“Oh my goodness, this is such a big deal. It is a great way to end my high school career. It is just perfect,” continued Salisbury. “It could not have ended any better. It feels so good.

“When I go up to hit, I constantly think I am going to hit the ball to left center and that is where I want to hit it. That is the way I think every time I go up.”

That is not what always happens, though.

Her double in the first inning found the gap in right center.

In a quarterfinal game, Garden City put a shift on against her. They moved some outfielders around, and Salisbury adjusted. She still got hits.

“I believe I can hit the ball any way that I need to,” said Salisbury, a two-year varsity player.

She will be playing at Saginaw Valley in the fall.

The coach says she is a very quiet person. That is, until she lets her bat do the talking.

Last Updated: 6/17/2017 6:35:32 PM EST