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Jays ride the rails, advance to second-straight D3 quarterfinal WITH GALLERY

Talk about drama?

Saturday's Division 3 softball regional final from Clare's Brookwood Athletic Complex had more ups and downs and twists and turns than several rides at Cedar Point.

As it was the Jays overcame an early 4-0 deficit and then rallied to take a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the sixth only to see Beaverton tie it in the top of the seventh inning before Bobb Servoss and company won it in the bottom of the frame via an RBI single off the bat of Aubrey McCullough.

With the win the Jays (26-18) advance to a second-straight Division 3 quarterfinal at Saginaw Valley State University Tuesday. They will play at 3 p.m.

"We beat one of the better pitchers in Division 3 today (in Beaverton's Faith Howe) and we felt like if we put the ball in play and limited our strikeouts to five or less we'd have a great chance ," said Servoss following the festivities. "For me there is nothing better than seeing all these smiles, it was a great day for us."

Things weren't looking too good early on as Beaverton scratched out one run in the second and three in the top of the third. And with Howe, who has 30 plus wins on the season and throws extremely hard, it seemed likes Shepherd's chances were rather minute.

Yet in the bottom of the third the Jays, who never get cheated when swinging the bats, started belting the ball around the yard much to the chagrin of the Beavers.

Hallie Reed lit the rally with a walk and moved to third when Ryanne McKenna's grounder to third was misplayed. Kianna Andrews doubled both in to make it 4-2 before scoring on an RBI single from Adri Nelson. Ashleigh Bryant then crushed a liner off the shortstops shin for a single to put runners on first and second an Hannah Cluley sacrifice moved both runners up and then a hit from Carey Smith made it 4-4. McCullough drove in the fifth run via a groundout to give the Jays a 5-4 lead.

Beaverton tacked on two runs in the fifth to claim a 6-5 lead which held till the bottom of the sixth. With two outs and no one on Reed, McKenna and Andrews all singled to load the bases for Nelson. Nelson smashed a high chopper to shortstop, which had heavy top-spin, and it deflected past the defense which allowed two runs to score and make it a 7-6 game in favor of Shepherd.

Naturally the Beavers scored once in the top of the seventh to tie it and set the stage for more Shepherd heroics. This time Cluley led off the frame with a double and was sacrificed to third. McCullough then smashed a single past a drawn-in infield to seal the deal.

"Any time you can win at this point it's great," said Servoss. "We kept plugging away and it says a lot about this team to have the character to come back like that. I couldn't be prouder."

Haley Peska nailed down both wins for the Jays in the circle. She allowed seven runs, three earned, on 10 hits while striking out four and walking none in the title game. She also allowed two runs, one earned, on nine hits while walking two and striking out seven in the 8-2 win over Pinconning in the opener.

"It's amazing, I don't know how to put it in words," said Peska of advancing to the quarterfinals. "When we were down 4-0 I was kind of nervous but once we came back I calmed down. Last year I wasn't on the (varsity) team when we made it so it feels great to help."

The Jays took a 4-1 lead in the third inning of the opener and added a single run in the fourth and three more in the fifth.

Nelson, Bryant and Smith all had three hits in the opener while Andrews, Cluley, McCullough and Bailey Greening each had two.

Last Updated: 6/10/2017 6:57:04 PM EST