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Huron takes one from SMCC to wrap up league play PHOTO GALLERY

  • Huron senior pitcher Courtney VanRiper prepares to deliver a pitch in the first game of a doubleheader against SMCC. The Chiefs split the twinbill, falling 4-3 in the first game and winning 3-1 in the second. Photo Gallery by Ricky Lindsay.

Chiefs settle for second in Huron League

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After overcoming an early deficit, Huron split a doubleheader with Saint Mary's Catholic Central. The Chiefs fell 4-3 in game one, but rebounded to top the Kestrels 3-1 in game two.

"I think we played well," Huron Coach Heather Holshoe said. "We needed to get the bats going earlier in the first game and play a little bit better defense, but I think we held our own. We went at them. We did the best we could."

Courtney VanRiper took the mound in consecutive days for the Chiefs. The senior went the distance in both games of the twinbill, striking out 18 and allowing only three earned runs.

If the Chiefs would've swept the doubleheader from SMCC, the two teams would've been deadlocked in a two-way tie for first place in the Huron League.

When all else failed, owning second place completely and not splitting it in a three way tie a feat accomplished by taking one from the Kestrels was Huron's priority.

"While second place is never our goal, if we're going to be there, we want to be there alone if we have that within our power," Holshoe said. That was our focus. They wanted first place on their own and they were fighting tooth and nail and we were fighting to share it. When that wasn't an option, we wanted second on our own."

A two-run second inning gave SMCC an early lead in the first game. But the Chiefs battled back. Taylor Hughey's two-run single highlighted a three-run fourth.

With one out remaining for Huron to lock up the victory in game one, the Chiefs began to unravel. The Kestrels retook the lead and staved off a loss after scoring two runs on a ball that glided past Huron's middle infield.

In the second game in a doubleheader with Riverview on Wednesday, Huron star Alexis White attempted to score on a fly out. She injured her leg on the play and did not take the field against Huron League leader SMCC.

Given the circumstances, Holshoe was more than impressed with her team's efforts on Thursday.

"We kind of got rocked at the end of the second game yesterday and it kind of threw us off," she said. "We didn't have our normal healthy lineup and we were hitting a JV kid (Lexie Tymerson) in the seventh spot today. She put the bat on the ball and did an amazing job for us. We really did well considering all the factors that have happened in the last 24 hours."

Like the first game, SMCC took an early lead in the nightcap of the twinbill. But the resilient Chiefs slowly rallied, too.

Summer Callahan scored Huron's first run in the second inning on an error by the shortstop. Four innings later, Alexis White crossed the plate on a one-run double by Savannah Leininger.

Pinch running for Huron pitcher VanRiper, Amanda Ozog scored on a sacrifice fly to give Huron a 3-1 lead. Playing the same role in the first game, Ozog crossed the plate on Hughey's two-run single.

Huron's win in the second game gave SMCC its first league loss of the season. But it was much more than a won-loss record for Holshoe and the Chiefs.

"That second game right there is a confidence builder," she said. "We knew going into today that we needed to win both to share the league title with SMCC, so to come back after a close loss and pull a victory out with their same pitcher throwing, that was in many ways what we needed to see and what we needed to do, getting us ready to go into the postseason, building confidence."

With the split, Huron sets at 21-4, 11-3 with districts approaching. The Chiefs play Erie Mason in a doubleheader on Tuesday before facing Summit in districts next Saturday.

Last Updated: 5/22/2014 10:22:50 PM EST