Rushford pitches Reed City to district title
REED CITY — Sidni Rushford wanted the ball in both games of Saturday’s Division 3 district tournament at Pine River, and the Reed City senior pitcher didn’t let down her teammates.
Rushford was the winning pitcher in both games, including a 17-0 six-inning win against Hart in the semifinal and 7-0 over Manistee in the title game.
Manistee defeated Mason County Central 5-1 in the other semifinal.
“It felt good,” Rushford said of pitching two games. “It’s pretty warm so I felt loose. I was ready to go.”
“We felt coming in we were the favorite,” Reed City coach Roger Steig said. “But Manistee is a good ballclub and it’s always tough to beat a team the third time. We beat them twice during the year. We have a lot of respect for them. Our girls played hard.”
Reed City opened the scoring the top of the second on Kiera Barker’s RBI single. The Coyotes added four more runs in the middle innings when Maddie Morgan was safe on an error, Devin Willard scored a run on a bunt single. Jordyn Storch had an RBI triple and Rushford added an RBI single.
Alyssa Olds had a two-run double the top of the seventh.
Manistee put the first two runners on base to open the seventh inning. But Storch gloved Sara Schaefer’s line drive and stepped on first base for a double play. Rushford struck out the final batter to clinch the title.
“My outside pitch was definitely on,” Rushford said. “I felt confident.”
Olds and Barker led the Coyotes with two hits apiece.
Rushford had nine strikeouts and only allowed hits to Schaefer and Madison Miller.
“It’s very special,” Rushford said. “No one wanted this to be our last game.”
Emma Witkowski was the pitcher of record for the Chippewas in both games.
“We made a lot of errors,” Manistee coach Ross Vander Weele said. “My No. 1 player and shortstop (Erin Vander Weele) was on the bench with a concussion. She sustained it in practice.”
Rushford went the first five innings of the semifinal game but Hart loaded the bases the top of the sixth with no outs. Storch came in relief and the Coyotes got a double play and another out to keep Hart scoreless. Morgan pitched the final inning.
Rushford had eight strikeouts in five innings. She also had five hits. Kamryn Myers, Storch, Lily Andres, Olds, Cassie Enos and Barker had two hits apiece.
“We made good contact at the right time,” Rushford said.
The Coyotes play at Standish-Sterling on Saturday in regional action and face Sanford Meridian at 10 a.m.
They lost to Kent City in a regional semifinal game last year.
“Last year we overlooked Kent City way too much,” Rushford said. “I think this year, we’ll be prepared for whomever is coming.”
Manistee ends the season at 14-18.
“Overall, we didn’t do as well as I had hoped,” Vander Weele said. “I’m pleased with where we are. We have lot of young kids coming into the program.”