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Meeting their match

Hurons fall to USA in D-4 semifinals

Members of Rogers City’s infield including catcher Amanda WIrgau (8), first baseman Jeffra Dittmar (15), pitcher Kyrsten Altman (far right), second baseman Kyley LaFleche (12), shortstop Taylor Fleming (back center) and third baseman Catheryn Hart huddle to talk after Unionville-Sebewaing hit a home run in the fourth inning of a Division 4 semifinal game on Friday at Michigan State University. USA defeated the Hurons 8-3.

EAST LANSING — Throughout the postseason, the Rogers City softball team has had an answer for every challenge thrown its way.

But the Hurons met their match on Friday and didn’t have enough answers to stop Unionville-Sebewaing in a 8-3 loss during a Division 4 semifinal at Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium.

Danielle Harper hit a two-run home run and Maci Montgomery had four hits and three RBI for the Patriots (30-9), who never trailed in the game and seized control of the contest with a four-run fourth inning.

The Patriots led 2-0 after two innings, 6-1 after four and 8-3 after five.

USA made contact at the plate early and finished the game with 16 hits. The Patriots’ 8-9-1 spots in the batting order-Macy Reinhardt, Harper and Montgomery in the leadoff spot-did most of the damage. The trio combined for nine hits, five RBI and seven runs scored.

“I’m really proud of our kids. We didn’t get the result that we wanted, but hats off to USA. They hit the ball and good things kept happening,” Rogers City coach Karl Grambau said. “We kept battling. It just wasn’t our day. We had some hits and we had some nice plays, but in the end USA was the better team today and they move on.”

The Hurons (27-8) had their chances several times in the contest, but had to play from behind almost from the outset. Rogers City cut into USA’s lead in the third inning, making it 2-1 after Linnea Hentkowski scored on an outfield error.

Rogers City couldn’t follow up in subsequent innings however and fell behind as USA batted around in the fourth inning.

The Hurons got a quick out to start the bottom of the fourth, but Reinhardt singled, paving the way for a center field blast from Harper to make it 4-1. Montgomery followed with a double and before the end of the inning, USA added two more runs on RBI singles from Brynn Polega and Laci Harris.

Rogers City briefly got a shot of momentum in the top of the fifth inning, when Taylor Fleming crushed an offering from Polega over the right field wall for a two-run shot to make it 6-3. USA held Rogers City in check the rest of the way however, limiting the Hurons to three hits.

In her final game as a Huron, Fleming led the Hurons with two hits, adding a single in seventh before USA ended the game on a routine groundout.

“Taylor had a day. She proved she’s an all-stater. We’ve had her on our team for four years and she’s been like that for four years,” Grambau said. “She really had a great day today, so she’ll have great memories even though we lost the game.”

Aside from Fleming’s two hits, Jeffra Dittmar had a double for Rogers City and Amanda Wirgau and Catheryn Hart each had a single.

Polega earned the win for USA in the circle, allowing three runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Kyrsten Altman took the loss, allowing eight runs on 16 hits with five strikeouts and no walks.

USA, which came into the game having outscored its five previous playoff opponents 58-0, made its presence known right away as Montgomery led off the bottom of the first inning with a hard hit triple. Rylee Zimmer followed with a sac fly, giving USA a 1-0 lead.

Montgomery subsequently doubled in her next three at-bats and came up big again in the fifth inning, smacking a two-run double to extend USA’s lead to 8-3.

In all, six players in USA’s lineup finished the contest with multiple hits, including Polega, Reinhardt and Harris, who had two each and Delanie Pavlichek and Harper who had three apiece.

USA advances to Saturday’s title game against Kalamazoo-Christian, who beat Coleman 6-1 in the other D-4 semifinal.

The loss brought an end to another solid season for the Hurons and Grambau was pleased with his team’s effort on Friday and throughout the year. Rogers City entered the year with some uncertainty despite high expectations and ultimately went on to win an eighth straight district title, fourth straight regional title and made a second consecutive appearance in East Lansing.

Despite Friday’s loss, Grambau reminded his team that the goal for next year will be the same.

“I don’t think too many people expected us to get here this year. We did. We talked about it from Day One and that’s what we’ve already talked about for next year,” Grambau said. “As the head coach that’s the goal every year and we’ll try to get a blue print together on how we can get back here.”