Wildcats get tested in home Huron Shores Softball Tournament
The Alpena softball team knew it was going to be tested in their annual Huron Shores Tournament at Alpena High School on Saturday.
The Wildcats welcomed three of the premier programs in the state, including No. 1 ranked Clarkston on Saturday.
Alpena was winless on the weekend, falling to Grand Blanc 2-0, losing to Clarkston 6-1 and ending the day with an 8-7 defeat to Garden City.
Game one featured a pitchers duel between Alpena’s Emma Fraser and Grand Blanc pitcher Kendall Klochak.
The two combined to allow just seven hits a total of 20 batters struck out in the game.
The Wildcats were held to just three hits as Klochak was perfect through three innings before Abbie Funk led off the fourth with a single, but Klochak retired the next three Wildcats in order.
Klochak finished with 12 strikeouts and Fraser was just as solid as she held the Bobcats to a pair of hits through five innings, but it was the top of the sixth where Grand Blanc scored the only two runs it needed.
Klochak helped her own cause by blasting a one out RBI double to the fence and Klochak later scored on a wild pitch to put Grand Blanc up 2-0.
Alpena threatened in the top of the seventh as Allie Funk singled with one out and Corinne Donajkowski singles with two outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but Klochak got Meghan Roznowski to ground out to short to end the game.
Dayna LaBell had the only other hit for the Wildcats and Fraser struck out eight in six complete innings of work.
The Wildcats had their toughest challenge to date and maybe their toughest all season when they played to top ranked team in Division 1 in game two.
Alpena showed no signs of backing down early and took a 1-0 lead on Clarkston in the opening frame.
Abbie Funk walked to lead off the game and cane around to score on an RBI single off the bat of Jade Schultz.
Alpena had opportunities to put more runs on the board in the first inning after the Wolves committed a pair of costly errors to load the bases with nobody out, but Clarkston pitcher Olivia Warrington struck out the final three batters of the inning to prevent any further damage.
The Wolves didn’t trail for long as they tied the game in the home half of the first when Abbey Tolmie led off with a walk and scored on a single from Hannah Cady.
Both teams remained tied through four innings as Fraser and Warrington both did their part on the mound early, but like good teams do, the Wolves found a way to put together one big inning a break the game wide open.
Clarkston scores five runs in the fifth inning as they collected four hits in the inning, the big hit coming with one out when Warrington hit a three-run home run over the left field fence to give the Wolves a 6-1 lead.
Once again Alpena was held to just four hits. Along with Schultz, Allie Funk, Abbie Funk and Donajkowski each collected a hit apiece in the game.
Fraser got hit with the loss, pitching all six innings and striking out four batters.
Warrington fanned 14 Wildcats in her complete game victory.
In game three, the Wildcats were hoping to end the day on a positive note and defeat Garden City for the second time in as many days.
Alpena appeared to finish the tournament with a win after scoring three runs in the top of the first inning to take an early lead.
Fraser doubled with one out, Schultz reached on an error and Allie Funk singled, all three came around to score in the inning to put Alpena up 3-0.
The lead didn’t last long as Garden City responded with four runs of its own in the bottom of the first.
The Cougars got to starting pitcher Lilly Lewis early as they collected four hits in the inning.
Alpena regained its lead with a pair of runs in the second when Maddy Saddler and Abbie Funk scored. Schultz scored Funk on a fielders choice to put Alpena up 5-4.
Lewis held Garden City scoreless for two innings and Alpena held its one run lead until the bottom of the fourth when the Cougars racked on three runs to take a 7-5 lead.
Trailing by two heading into the final inning, the Wildcats rallied as five of the first batters reached based safely and Abbie Funk and Fraser both came around to score to tie the game at seven as Schultz doubled home Fraser to tie the game.
With the bases loaded and one out, Alpena had a chance to take a lead and do much more damage, but a pop out in the infield and a fly out to center field ended the threat.
The Cougars wasted no time putting pressure on Alpena in the bottom of the seventh when Siena Condash led off the inning with a double. The next batter reached base on an error to set up second and third with no outs for Garden City.
Leadoff batter Meghan Wladysiak hit a ground ball to Lewis at the mound, Lewis threw to first base and Condash took off from third and beat the throw home to score the game-winning run for the Cougars.
Offensively for Alpena, Schultz had a double, a pair of RBI and a run scored. Sydney Chojnacki added a pair of hits, Fraser doubled and scored twice, Abbie Funk singled and scored a pair of runs and Allie Funk singled and scored a run.
Alpena finished the day 0-3 and now holds a 15-7 overall record on the season. Most importantly, the Wildcats are 6-0 in Big North Conference play and have a two game cushion and are in the driver’s seat for capturing another BNC crown.