2012-08-01 / Sports

Cros-Lex girls bow out in State semifinals

Pioneer softball, though, continues to impress
BY DALE BALL
Sports Editor


During a game in pool play at the Junior League softball State Tournament, Cros-Lex pitcher Taylor Bevins (2nd from right) is congratulated, after an out, by infielders Lexi Drake, Erin Arsenault, Alyssa Cepeda and Claire Knapp. During a game in pool play at the Junior League softball State Tournament, Cros-Lex pitcher Taylor Bevins (2nd from right) is congratulated, after an out, by infielders Lexi Drake, Erin Arsenault, Alyssa Cepeda and Claire Knapp. A two year reign as Junior League Softball state champions, ended for the Croswell- Lexington program on Wednesday. However, a young Pioneer team could very well be back next summer to regain that title.

Cros-Lex ended its 2012 tournament at Wyoming, Michigan's, Pinery Park last Wednesday afternoon with a, 9-0, loss to Escanaba in the first of two semifinal contests. Escanaba, which had posted five straight shutouts to reach the finals, topped Hudsonville, 7-3, in the title game. The Pioneers' only other loss in the tournament was a 4-2 setback to Hudsonville in pool play.

"Escanaba was absolutely the best team we have seen all year," attested Matt Drake, Cros-Lex coach. "They ripped the ball up and down the lineup and they had the best pitcher we had seen, including travel."

In the semis, Escanaba started fast and the Pioneers could not counter, offensively. The champs scored three times in the top of the first inning and then built the lead to 7-0 with two more runs in both the third and fourth innings. Escanaba closed the scoring on a two-run home run from Michelle LaFave, who earlier delivered a two-run double.

"We really didn't make any mistakes," Drake pointed out. "They just out-played us. Once in a while you just get beat by a better team. That is easier to swallow than making errors and losing."

Alyssa Cepeda started on the mound for C-L, pitching the first two innings and allowing three runs, and took the loss. Taylor Bevins tossed the final five innings. Meanwhile, Katie Ross pitched the first four innings for Escanaba and picked up the win, allowing no hits or runs.

The only hits in the game for the Pioneers were a single each from Alyssa Cepeda, Sarah Wilson and Rebecca Oden

On Tuesday, in the quarterfinals, Cros-Lex advanced by blanking Farwell, 4-0.

Cepeda and Bevins com- bined to pitch the two-hit shutout. Cepeda, the starter and winner, went the first four innings, giving up just a single, and Bevins finished out the final three. The two combined to fan nine batters.

The Pioneers made the most of their five hits in the contest, which included two from Wilson and one apiece from Lexi Drake, Claire Knapp and Cepeda. Wilson, Drake, Knapp and Oden were each credited with an RBI.

With as many as eight members of this year's squad still eligible to return to 14U play next summer, Drake hopes lessons learned this year will pay off down the road.

"I think the experience showed us that we need to work on hitting elite pitching," Drake said. "We can't win every game 2-1 or 3-2. Our offense starts with small ball and is built on speed. We put the ball in play and put pressure on the other team.

"We usually win close games," continued Drake, who recalls his team was shutout only twice this summer in 50 games (Little League and travel). "But, like I tell the girls, it doesn't matter how great your pitching and fielding is, you can't win when you score zero."

Drake then summed up the season, "We went 16-2 as a (14U) Little League team this year and we are proud of that. Our goal was to play in the State Finals, and we were one game short.

"I love our girls," Drake continued. "They practiced their butts off, from pitching and catching from January on to sweating bullets in the sun for two weeks straight in July leading up to the tournament."

Drake, along with his co-coach, Bill Bevins, also praised everyone who backed up the team this summer. "I would like to thank the parents and the community for their morale and financial support."

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