Saugatuck suffers heart-breaking loss in district semifinals
During his seven-year career as a softball coach at Saugatuck, Matt Diaz has experienced some tough losses.
None, however, hurt worse than the Indians’ loss against Grace Christian in a Division 4 district semifinal on Saturday, June 4.
“This is probably the toughest one to swallow,” Diaz said after his Indians suffered the 2-1 defeat to the Patriots in nine innings. “It was definitely a heart-breaker for us. We thought if we could get past (Grace Christian), we had a great shot at winning the district title.
Instead it was the Patriots who hoisted the championship trophy, upending host Martin 7-0 in the district title tilt.
Saugatuck starter Emma Harry did everything she could to help her team, turning in a complete-game effort that included 12 strikeouts, six hits and one walk.
“I really thought Emma pitched a tremendous game,” Diaz said. “She executed our game plan to perfection. The whole team did.
“You have to tip your hat to Grace Christian. They made one more play than we did and earned the win.”
The “one more play” was a walk-off double by Sarah Reeve in the bottom of the ninth inning that snapped the 1-1 deadlock.
That was the first run scored since the top of the sixth, when Kathryn Shanahan walked and scored for the Indians to knot the game at 1-1.
Grace Christian scored its first run in the bottom of the fourth.
“We had a few opportunities with runners in scoring position but just couldn’t get that key hit to score the one run we needed,” Diaz said. “With the way Emma was pitching, I thought if we could get to two runs we had a great shot at winning.”
Unfortunately for Diaz and the Indians, Patriot pitcher Jaidyn Hutsell never allowed that second run to score. She finished with three hits allowed to go with four walks and 16 strikeouts.
“I really thought (Hutsell) did a great job locating her rise ball,” Diaz said. “We really struggled to hit that pitch.”
Alexus Phillips finished with two of Saugatuck’s three hits. Harry added a triple.
“I was so proud of the effort and heart my team showed,” Diaz said. “I was proud of Kristin Schock—our lone senior—playing in her last game. She gave everything she had today and for four years.
“With a young team, we’re looking forward to next year.”