Bulldogs make a statement
Rogers City falls to Inland Lakes in quarterfinal
GAYLORD–It wasn’t the ending the Rogers City softball team was hoping for.
Not after two years of painful losses.
Not after two years of working hard to get back to this point.
Not after another dominant postseason run.
But Chloe Mallory did it again.
The senior pitcher threw another stellar game and Indian River Inland Lakes hit three home runs during an 11-1 rout of Rogers City on Tuesday in a Division 4 quarterfinal at Gaylord High School.
In a matchup of the No. 1 and No. 4 ranked teams in Division 4, the Bulldogs took control of the game in the third inning and never looked back, silencing the Hurons at the plate.
It marks the third straight season Mallory and Inland Lakes have beaten Rogers City in the postseason and second straight season Rogers City has been felled by the Bulldogs in the quarterfinals.
“I think the tears (after the game) show just how much we cared. The girls cared so much and tried so hard. We wanted to have a better result, but today Inland Lakes was the better team,” Rogers City coach Karl Grambau said. “Congratulations to them. We wish them good luck at Michigan State. I hope they go win it all for all of Northern Michigan.”
The win advances the Bulldogs (38-5) to a semifinal matchup with Kalamazoo Christian on Friday in East Lansing.
Mallory was solid again Tuesday, allowing one run on one hit with eight strikeouts and two walks. The Central Michigan-bound senior induced several fly balls for outs and held the Hurons (34-6) scoreless and hitless for all but one inning.
“I told her she’s got to promise me she’s graduating and she is. She’s the real deal and she pitched really well today,” Grambau said. “I thought today was the best she’s pitched against us in the three times we’ve faced her.”
Pamela Braund, Mallory and Madison Milner each hit a home run for the Bulldogs, who scored three runs in the third inning and two in the fourth to take a commanding 5-0 lead. Inland Lakes added three runs in each of the last two innings.
After escaping jams in the first two innings, the Hurons couldn’t contain the Bulldogs any longer once the third inning began. With one out and a runner on second, Milner blasted a two-run home run to left field to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. An RBI single by Makayla Henckel later in the inning put Indland Lakes ahead by three.
Things didn’t get any better in the fourth inning as Braund led off with a solo shot to center field. Two batters later Mallory deposited a ball over the fence in left center field, upping the Bulldogs’ lead to 5-0.
The Hurons went 1-2-3 in the third inning, but scored a run in the bottom of the fourth after Hannah Fleming singled to score Kayla Rabeau. It was the only run Rogers City scored and Fleming’s single was the only hit Mallory allowed.
An error allowed Inland Lakes to score a run in the top of the sixth and Precious Delos Santos scored after advancing home on an infield double play. Milner’s RBI double later in the inning gave the Bulldogs an 8-1 lead.
Inland Lakes struck again in the seventh, scoring three runs and Sydney DePauw had an RBI double.
Inland Lakes finished the game with 11 runs on 16 hits. Mallory had three hits and fell a triple short of the cycle. Milner had two hits and three RBI and Delos Santos had two hits. Henckel and DePauw each had two hits and an RBI.
Jayna Hance took the loss for the Hurons, striking out two and walking one.
Despite the loss, Grambau was proud of his team’s efforts all season. The Hurons easily won another North Star League title and earned district and regional titles in a season where they were one of Division 4’s top teams all year.
“Hats off to our kids. I thought we did lots of things: we went undefeated in the conference, we won our sixth straight district title, we won our fourth regional in five years,” Grambau said. “There’s a lot of schools who would love to do what we’re doing and we just have to work hard now for next year.”