Brenna Bourdage saved one of the biggest hits of her career for her final home game.
Bourdage's two-out RBI single to score Alex Peters in the top of the ninth inning was enough to send the Alpena softball team past Marquette and gave the Wildcats a 3-2 win on their home field in a Division 1 district championship game Saturday.
"I was hitting all day. I'd miss it by a centimeter and get a pop-up and just to finally see the ball and hit the ball and get that RBI single was definitely probably one of the best moments of my life," Bourdage said. "I told myself, 'Brenna, you have to be calm and cool and collected,' because the last time (up) before that I was a little antsy and so I just calmed down, swung the bat like I know I can and it went."
News Photo by James Andersen
The Alpena softball team celebrates with a Division 1 district trophy after beating Marquette 3-2 in nine innings in the district championship game Saturday at Alpena High School. The Wildcats also won the Big North title with a 9-2 semifinal win over Traverse City Central.
The win wrapped up Alpena's second straight district title and sends the Wildcats to Saginaw Valley State University on Saturday to face Bay City Western in a regional semifinal.
Alpena's winning run came at the end of a contest that had all the makings of an instant classic. With two outs, Peters laced a double to left field and one batter later, Bourdage singled her home.
Bourdage also made the final out of the game in the next half inning, catching a high pop-up from Morgan Seibert.
The Wildcats' trailed 2-1 in the seventh inning, but tied the game on an odd play. A miscommunication on the base paths saw two Alpena runners get caught in rundowns between second and third and first and second, but Marquette was unable to make a play on either runner, allowing Desiree Robertson to score from second base.
Marquette then went quietly in the seventh inning, but got a running in scoring position in the eighth inning after Angela Brown doubled with two outs. Peters then struck out pinch-hitter Lydia Seibert to end the threat.
Peters pitched a gem for the Wildcats, throwing a complete game while striking out 14, walking three and giving up five hits. She allowed a one-out single to Courtney LaFreniere in the ninth inning before inducing a ground ball and a pop-up to end the game.
"I had to calm myself down so I wouldn't try and overthrow and I was just like, 'You've just got to bear down and do it,'" Peters said. "It's a long game, but you just try to get in and out, do the best you can and that's pretty much all I did."
The early part of the game was largely a pitchers duel as both hurlers allowed one hit each. Morgan pitched all but one inning for Marquette, allowing nine hits with five strikeouts and four walks.
The Wildcats broke the stalemate in the fourth inning when Shannon Kapala hit a single down the left field line to score Abby MacArthur.
Logan Myers led Alpena with two hits and Peters, Bourdage, MacArthur, Kapala, Caten Teff and Mary Schimmel each had one.
Brown paced the Redettes with three hits.
Marquette struck back in the fifth inning after Seibert knocked a two-out, two-run bloop single to center field. The Redettes threatened to score again in the sixth, but stranded runners on first and second after Peters struck out Whitney LaFave and Senja Liimatta to end the inning.
In all, the Redettes stranded 10 base runners including two each in three different innings. Alpena left nine runners aboard for the game including one in each of the last four innings.
Alpena opened district play with a 9-2 win over Traverse City Central and clinched the Big North title in the process, finishing with an 11-1 conference record.
The Wildcats caught fire early, tallying five runs on six hits in the first inning. Alpena went on to add a run in the second inning, two runs in the fifth inning and one run in the sixth inning.
Central struck back in the first inning when Miranda Winowiecki hit a two-run home run, but the Trojans were shut down after that. Alpena starter Corinn Gehrke pitched a four-hitter the rest of the way and Central left four runners on base. Gerhke finished with five strikeouts, four walks and allowed six hits.
Offensively, Peters, Bourdage, MacArthur, Kapala and Schimmel each had two hits for the Wildcats.
Marquette topped Traverse City West 3-0 in the other semifinal.
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.