Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart Academy's Page All Softball Stories


Jays ready for defending champs, looking to advance to D3 state final

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

The only way through is through.

Over the course of the last week the Shepherd High School softball program has put together one of the best runs in the state of Michigan.

Last Saturday the Jays won a Division 3 regional title in Clare by beating eighth-ranked Beaverton 8-7 in a slug fest. In that game the Jays posted eight runs on Beaverton ace Faith Howe who came into the contest with over 30 wins and a minuscule ERA of under 1.00.

Then on Tuesday, from the campus of Saginaw Valley State University, the unranked Jays turned in a perfect contest as junior right-hander Haley Peska tossed a perfect game while the hard-hitting offense posted five runs en route to a 5-0 Division 3 quarterfinal victory over fourth-ranked Millington. Peska's performance was the obvious talk of town, but Shepherd's offensive onslaught was also noteworthy in that the Jays put up five runs in the first two innings on Millington ace Gabrielle Sherman who had set the single-season school record for wins this season.

Next up for the Jays (25-18) is another equally daunting task as they take on defending Division 3 state champion Monroe St. Mary's (25-3) at 3 p.m. Friday from Secchia Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University.

This time around the Jays will face University of Michigan pitching recruit Meghan Beaubien (20-1, 0.49 ERA, 302 K, 145 2/3 IP), who has led the top-ranked Kestrels all season.

For Shepherd it's going to be perhaps the biggest challenge to date, yet it's one they're ready for.

"This team has come together and we feel like we can beat anyone," said junior catcher Adri Nelson, who's hitting .456 with 13 doubles, 30 RBIs and 41 runs scored. "We know the pitcher we're going to be facing is the real deal, but offensively we feel like we're the best out there. We're not going to do a lot of slapping or anything like that, we play the crush game. We've exceeded a lot of people's expectations and we plan to continue doing that."

Since taking over the head-coaching job three years ago Bobb Servoss has developed an offense that is a kind of a contradiction to the game of softball because there is no finesse, rather it's about raw power. Last year his team, which also got to the D3 quarterfinal round, broke the single-season school record for homers and his 2017 rendition is trending on the same course.

"We get that pitching machine cranked up to 60 miles per hour every day, because if you're going to win at this point of the season that's what you're going to see," said Servoss, who has Shepherd in the state semifinal round for the first time since 1997. "Our hitters have to go up there with the same attitude of staying off the high strike and getting into hitter-friendly counts. If you go up there chasing you're in for a long day. We only struck out four times (in the quarterfinals) because we were disciplined. Hey, we have already beaten two of the best pitchers in the state, so we have to go in with the same mindset."

Junior shortstop Kianna Andrews added, "If we play our game, just keep playing like we have been, we're going to bring it. We've been the underdogs all (postseason) and we're going to be an underdog again which we're fine with."

Statistically speaking Ashleigh Bryant leads the way as she is hitting .504 with 53 RBIs. Bryant has eight hits in her last 10 at bats. Hannah Cluley (.368, 32 runs, 21 RBIs), Carey Smith (.308, 11 SB) and Andrews (.326, 48 runs, 13 doubles) have all had great seasons as well.

Peska is also 15-7 in the circle with a 2.33 ERA. She has struck out 133 hitters in 138 innings and tossed her first career perfect game Tuesday against Millington.

Beubien leads the Kestrels at the plate with a .444 batting average while catcher Kenna Garst is hitting .483 with 13 doubles, 28 runs and 30 RBIs. Shortstop Kelsey Barron is also hitting .455 while outfielder Abbey Johnson hits at a .434 clip.

Saturday's D3 state final is slated to start at 5:30 p.m.

Last Updated: 6/15/2017 2:47:34 PM EST