Clarkston loses 2-1 heartbreaker to Grandville in D1 softball semifinals WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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Game Info

Softball - 6/15/2017 

Clarkston 1
Grandville 2

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EAST LANSING >> The one the Clarkston Wolves needed to get over someone’s head, didn’t.

And the one they didn’t need to sail overhead, did.

Two sixth-inning plays made the ultimate difference between winning and losing in Thursday’s Division 1 semifinal game between Clarkston and Granville, and it’s why the Bulldogs are making game plans for Saturday, while the Wolves head home.

Grandville (32-7) took advantage of a two-run error in the top of the inning, and held the Wolves (32-10) to just one run from a bases-loaded opportunity in the bottom of the frame, winning by that same 2-1 margin.

A heart-breaking, oh-so-close loss for a Wolves team that had just gotten better and better as the year wore on.

“It always is (heartbreaking). I told the girls they probably won’t, and I know I won’t sleep for a couple nights. Yeah, it is,” Clarkston coach Don Peters said, admitting the loss will stick for a while. “Days, sometimes weeks. But that’s part of being an athlete and a coach. You put so much into it. I mean, I can’t even tell you how much work the girls and the coaching staff put in this. If we got paid by the hour …

“But that helps them in everything else. They learn to work hard. They learn to be disciplined. And they learn sometimes — it’s my favorite saying, ‘Sometimes the frog jumps over the hot dog.’ And they go, ‘What are you talking about?’ Exactly. She make that great catch.”

The great catch came in the bottom of the sixth, one of several key defensive plays in the only inning that had any significant action.

With Ellie Muilenberg and Olivia Warrington going pitch-for-pitch, neither team got a runner past second base for the first five innings.

Then, the offenses finally arrived, putting pressure on the opposing defenses.

Each team made one key play. Clarkston needed two, unfortunately.

“Yeah. I think there was two key plays there. Obviously one where that girl made that great catch,” Peters said. “Then the other where our girl made a great play, and it just got away from her.”

In the top of the sixth, Grandville's Nikoma Holmen doubled with one out, then Kaitlyn Orme walked. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, but the Wolves were able to get the lead runner at the plate, when Clarkston third baseman Hannah Chadwell made a great play on a Kali Gibson grounder, faking the throw, then herding the runner into the tag.

Muilenberg also appeared to have grounded out to end the threat, but the errant throw to first sailed well over first baseman Abbey Tolmie’s head, scoring both baserunners.

The great catch came from Grandville center fielder Lexi Dukesherer, who made an over-the-shoulder grab on a bomb off the bat of Clarkston’s Sierra Kersten with the bases loaded in the bottom half of the inning. As it was, it scored Tolmie from third, the sacrifice fly cutting Granville’s two-run lead in half. Had it burned her entirely, it could’ve cleared the bases.

“I thought it was over her head, yeah. She hit it pretty hard,” Peters said, admitting that the Wolves still had a shot, with one inning to go. “We did, and we hit one-through-nine, so I was hoping. A couple of those girls have pop, too. Until that last strike, we figure we’re in it.”

But after Warrington sent down the Bulldogs in order in the top of the seventh, Muilenberg did the same thing in the bottom of the inning to clinch the game.

“That pitcher, she was amazing today. She did a great job, I think. … That girl was outstanding,” Peters said of Muilenberg, who struck out nine, and allowed just two hits, agreeing she might be the best pitcher the Wolves have faced this season.

“Yeah. I would say, yeah. We didn’t get any scouts on them, they’re all the way on the other side of the state — the kids probably don’t even know where Grandville is; no, I’m just kidding — So it’s hard. But I heard, even through the grapevine, that she had a great change-up. We’ve seen girls that throw that hard, maybe even a little harder, but that change-up is wicked.”

[COMING SATURDAY: Check back Saturday for a look at what the future holds for Clarkston after Thursday's semifinal loss.]

Last Updated: 6/15/2017 7:24:38 PM EST