The Alpena softball team (17-10, 10-1 Big North) needed to sweep Traverse City West in order to stay in competition with Cadillac (9-1 Big North) for the Big North Conference championship.
With 9-5 and 7-0 wins over the Titans on Friday, the Wildcats accomplished that goal.
Alpena coach Paul Marwede maintained a lot of respect for the West squad in spite of his team's wins.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena’s Alex Peters prepares to slide into third during the second game of a double header against Traverse City West. Peters was safe on the play. She won as pitcher 9-5 in the first game and hit two home runs.
"Their defense did a really good job tonight. Those could have been 10 or 15-run games with the way we were hitting but their defense consistently got to the right spot and got those big outs," Marwede said.
The first game was highlighted by two home runs in two consecutive at bats for pitcher Alex Peters. Peters gave up only six hits and struck out 11 batters in the first game.
"That's the first time I've hit two home runs in one game. I saw the ball come in, it was where I needed it to be and as soon as I hit it I was like 'oh yeah' because I knew it was going out," she said.
Peters' first home run came in the second inning and was the first run of the game. A triple by Abby MacArthur immediately after set her up to be driven in by Shannon Kapala on a sacrifice fly to shortstop Carley Drzewiecki.
Alpena picked up one run in each of the following two innings, including a Jenna VanDusen RBI double that drove in Logan Myers from third. Myers had tripled in the previous at bat.
Peters' second home run came in the fourth inning to give Alpena a 4-1 lead over the Titans.
The Titans then seemed to figure out Peters pitching in the fifth, drawing a walk and two hits to drive in four runs to take a 5-4 lead.
Tighter pitching by Peters in the sixth and seventh shut out West for the rest of the game as Alpena's bats woke up in the sixth to pick up five huge runs.
Alpena batted through the order one time with every batter but one getting on base and every batter but two of those getting a hit. Batting highlights included a Kara Gehrke RBI double, a two RBI single by Brenna Bourdage, a Mary Schimmel RBI single and a Myers double.
Alpena's offensive momentum stayed strong into the nightcap with Myers and Jenna VanDusen picking up a single and a double in the first inning while Bourdage and Peters picked up sacrifice outs to drive them home.
The Wildcats didn't have one big inning, but picked up a run or two in every inning but the second and the seventh, picking up at least one hit in every inning, with four coming in the sixth.
The Titans simply couldn't get any offense going in the second game. A big reason for this lack of success was the consistent pitching of Corinn Gehrke. She struck out three, gave up three walks but only gave up three hits.
Her most important inning was the second, when she pitched her way out of a tough bases-loaded, one-out situation that could have easily put the Titans on the scoreboard.
Gehrke struck out one while left fielder Kapala picked up a great fly ball catch to end the inning.
"We played really well today, defensively, in the second game and Corinn pitched really good. When they hit the ball, our fielders were there to stop it," Peters said.
Peters was the top hitter in the second game, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored. Logan Myers went 3-for-5 and picked up a score and an RBI.
"Today's games were really important and it's nice to put together a little winning streak and come out strong at the end of the season. Our destiny is now in our hands as far the conference championship is concerned," Marwede said.
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