Right down the middle

Onaway, Inland Lakes split twinbill to share SVC title

News Photo by James Andersen Indian River Inland Lakes leadoff hitter Precious Delos Santos (3) beats an attempted tag from Onaway first baseman Britney Buczkowski during a softball doubleheader on Friday in Tower. The two teams split the doubleheader and each earned a share of the Ski Valley Conference title.

TOWER–Before the second game of a doubleheader on Friday, Onaway softball coach Jodi Brewbaker had a simple message for her team.

“Let’s get this done.”

The Cardinals took Brewbaker’s message to heart and bounced back from a rough finish in game one to split a Ski Valley Conference doubleheader with Indian River Inland Lakes.

Inland Lakes won the opener 7-3 and Onaway took the nightcap 12-2 (five innings), giving both teams 15-1 Ski Valley Conference records and a share of the conference title.

Britney Buczkowski hit a walk-off three run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning of the nightcap to secure Onaway’s half of the title with a mercy-rule win.

Buczkowski’s dinger was the last of four Onaway hit on the day and each one proved crucial for the Cardinals.

Kayla Metty, Kennedy Crawford and Kyli Brewbaker also went yard as the Cardinals sent their seniors off in grand fashion during their final homestand.

“I talked to the underclassmen (between games) and told them you need to play your best game and you need to do it for them (the seniors),” Brewbaker said. “I’m happy with the way the day ended.”

Buczkowski was 4-for-4 with a home run, four RBI and a run scored in Onaway’s win. Crawford earned the win on the mound, pitching five innings while allowing two runs on two hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. She helped her own cause with a grand slam during a six-run third inning for Onaway, which broke the game open, turning a 2-1 lead into an 8-1 lead.

Onaway added a run in the fourth inning before Buczkowski’s big hit in the fifth inning.

Jordan Larson was 1-for-4 with a double for Onaway and Jillian Chaskey was 1-for-1 with a run scored; Jackie Sellke had an RBI and Calley Selke was 1-for-4 with a run scored; Metty was 2-for-2 with three runs scored and Brewbaker was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.

Both sides were tied 3-3 after five innings, but the Bulldogs ultimately prevailed in the opener and stringing together four crucial hits and a pair of Onaway errors to plate four runs in the top of the seventh inning.

Amber Passino walked to lead off the inning and was sacrificed to second base by Ava Hansel. Shaylee Michael then gave Inland Lakes the lead by singling to score Passino.

The Bulldogs weren’t done yet and scored three more runs. Mara Clancy doubled on a ball that was just fair inside the third base line and later came home on a throwing error. Two batters later, leadoff hitter Precious Delos Santos hit an RBI triple and came around to score on another throwing error, giving Inland Lakes a 7-3 lead.

Inland Lakes pitcher Gracey Henkel retired Onaway’s hitters in order during the Cardinals final trip to the plate, which included two strikeouts. She finished the game with 12 strikeouts while allowing three runs on six hits.

“We weren’t ourselves in that game. They buckled down and came back to win (the second game), but I told them after the first game, ‘This is not Onaway softball and we need to get it together,'” Brewbaker said.

The long ball gave both teams early leads as the two teams combined for three home runs in the first four innings. Onaway struck first when Metty went yard with a solo shot to left field in the second inning.

Inland Lakes answered back in the third inning when Vandaele hit a two-run shot to left field, giving Inland Lakes a 3-1 lead. Onaway responded in the fourth inning when Brewbaker, a freshman, hit a two-run dinger to left center field, tying the game at three.

“In your head, you’re hoping that happens, but when she connected I knew it was gone,” Brewbaker said.

Metty had two hits, an RBI and scored once for Onaway; Brewbaker had two hits, a pair of RBI and scored once.

Delos Santos led Inland Lakes with three hits.

Selke pitched for Onaway, allowing seven runs on nine hits with four walks and seven strikeouts.

Onaway is 24-5 overall and could play Inland Lakes again on Friday when the two teams play in a Division 4 district at Gaylord St. Mary.