Four in a row

Hurons topple Cardinals to win regional title

Rogers City softball coach Karl Grambau is surrounded by his players as he holds up a Division 4 regional championship trophy on Saturday in East Jordan. The Hurons defeated Onaway 7-0 in the regional final and earned their fourth straight regional championship.

EAST JORDAN — Brooke Saile picked the perfect time to hit her first career home run.

The Rogers City junior’s two-run shot to center field in the fourth inning gave the Hurons the spark they needed on the way to a 7-0 victory over Onaway in a Division 4 regional final at East Jordan High School on Saturday.

The win gives the Hurons a fourth straight regional championship and advances them to a quarterfinal matchup with Rudyard at 2 p.m., Tuesday in Petoskey.

In an all-Presque Isle County regional final, Saile’s home run–which came with two outs–was the jolt of energy the Hurons needed to upend their rival.

The two-run shot was extra special and emotional for Saile, who’s grandmother passed away on Friday.

Rogers City junior Brooke Saile (24) is welcomed by her teammates at home plate after hitting a home run against Onaway during a Division 4 regional final in East Jordan on Saturday.

“It was crazy. I honestly didn’t expect it at all. I thought it was just a regular hit and all of a sudden I heard my coaching saying, ‘It’s over. It’s over.’ I just started breaking down crying,” Saile said of her home run. “My grandma passed away yesterday and that was for her.”

Rogers City added a run in both the fifth and sixth innings before tacking on two more in the seventh.

Taylor Fleming had three hits to lead Rogers City and Amanda Wirgau had two.

Defensively, the Hurons played a nearly flawless game, holding Onaway scoreless while allowing six hits and leaving eight Cardinal runners on base.

Kyrsten Altman earned the win for the Hurons, allowing six hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Against a potent Onaway lineup, Altman only fanned two batters, but pitched to contact and was backed up by her defense after inducing many ground ball and fly ball outs.

Onaway pitcher Calley Selke (4) tags out East Jordan’s Madeline Malpass during a Division 4 regional semifinal at East Jordan on Saturday. Malpass was trying to advance home on a passed ball during the fifth inning.

“Kyrsten, she showed again (that) she’s an all-state pitcher,” Rogers City coach Karl Grambau said. “She just battles out there.”

Both teams put runners on base early–including two each in the first and third innings–but each defense held strong.

Saile finally broke through for the Hurons in the top of the fourth, homering off of Calley Selke and driving in Jeffra Dittmar to put Rogers City ahead 2-0.

“She got a good pitch and she drove it. She kept her head on it and she got us going,” Grambau said. “That kind of ignited us.”

Wirgau had an RBI double for the Hurons in the fifth inning and Altman singled home a run in the sixth.

Members of the Rogers City softball team pose with a Division 4 regional championship trophy on Saturday in East Jordan. Pictured left to right are: front: Amanda Wirgau, Taylor Fleming, Catheryn Hart, Alissa Bowden and Ashley Morgan; middle: Kyley LaFleche, Makenna Fessler, Sydney Paull, Kyrsten Altman and Brooke Saile; back: head coach Karl Grambau, Makenzie Bruning, Reagan Comerford, Chloe Hentkowski, Karissa Rabeau, Jeffra Dittmar, Grace Garrison and assistant coach Amanda Karsten. Not pictured is Linnea Hentkowski.

Onaway had just two hits over the final four innings and left two runners on in scoring position. While the Cardinals made contact against Altman, they weren’t able to find holes like the Hurons did.

Kayla Metty had two hits for Onaway and Kyli Brewbaker had a double and Onaway’s only extra-base hit.

It was a tough ending for the Cardinals, who were vying for their first regional championship since 2010 and will say goodbye to five seniors.

“We hit the ball, unfortunately right at them. We only had two strikeouts, but they found the gaps and we didn’t,” Onaway coach Jodi Brewbaker said.

With momentum firmly in their grasp, the Hurons added two more runs in the seventh inning as Dittmar and Alissa Bowden both had an RBI single.

Onaway was retired in order in the bottom of the inning to end the game.

Selke pitched the first 5 2/3 innings for Onaway before Kennedy Crawford closed things out.

Onaway topped East Jordan 11-4 in the first of two semifinals on Saturday, pulling away from the Red Devils with eight runs over the last two innings.

Metty had three hits and four RBI for Onaway Brittney Buczkowski had a hit and three RBI.

Rogers City defeated St. Ignace 6-1 in the second semifinal. The Hurons left the Saints behind after a four-run third inning.

Altman had two hits including a solo home run and Wirgau and Bowden each had two hits.

Tuesday’s game will be a rematch from last year’s quarterfinal, a game the Hurons won 7-5.


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