Coyotes celebrate softball district title

LEROY — It was the day the Reed City Coyotes had waited for since the first day of practices in early March.

With 7-2 and 9-1 victories over Lake City and Manton in the Division 3 districts on Monday, Reed City celebrated its first Division 3 district title in four seasons.

The Coyotes, 27-9, will move on to the regionals Saturday at Evart and face Manistee in a semifinal game.

“From the first day of practice, this is what we had our sights on,” said Reed City coach Roger Steig. “It’s kind of a dream come true for us.”

“It was a matter of good defense, communicating as a team and not letting down,” said junior shortstop Emma Lockhart.

Skiler Brigham, a freshman outfielder, who had the game-winning hit for the Coyotes in the title game of the Reed City Invitational, came up huge again with a huge game. Brigham had two huge hits at key times and also threw out a runner at the plate from her left field spot.

Reed City exploded for four runs in the top of the second against Manton to take an early lead. With two runners on and two out,, Brigham delivered a two-run triple and Amanda Steig followed with a two-run inside-the-park home run.

Manton loaded the bases in the top of the third.

Hollie Eising singled home a run to left field. But Brigham gloved the ball in the outfield and fired a strike to catcher Amanda Steig who put the tag on Manton’s Rachel Bode to keep the score at 4-1.

“I’ve done that before,” Brigham said. “This time, I had some extra adrenaline going.”

Courtney Morgan had an RBI single the bottom of the third to make it 5-1. In the top of the fourth, Taylor Steig speared a line drive at first base to save a run. Sydni Arnold had an RBI infield single the bottom of the fourth for a 6-1 lead.

Brigham delivered an RBI double and scored on Amanda Steig’s RBI single to make it 8-1 the bottom of the fifth. Steig scored on a wild pitch for the ninth run.

“I wanted to hit it really hard so it would go far,” Brigham said.

“She’s come so far since the start of the season,” Roger Steig said. “I can’t put it into words.”

On the throw to the plate, “I have three players who can throw it from the fence to the plate,” Steig added. “We’ve done that all year long.”

Morgan went all seven innings allowing one-run on six hits and three walks while striking out three. She also had two hits.

“Our whole district tournament Courtney has pitched really strong,” Roger Steig said.

Amanda Steig and Brigham also had two hits.

Jurrica Stanley was the losing pitcher.

Manton, which had beaten McBain in a semifinal game, ended its season at 23-14-1.

“We had two (starters)  injured and that’s huge,” said Manton coach Tiffany Rehkopf. “We had base hits and they had extra base hits. We had some errors and they didn’t have any errors.”

The Coyotes overcame an early 2-0 deficit to Lake City to win the semifinal game 7-2.

Megan Atkins had an RBI double followed by Elizabeth Redman’s RBI single the bottom of the first.

Redman was Lake City's starter. While Reed City was hitting Redman, the ball kept going at someone.

Morgan doubled and would score on two wild pitches the top of the fourth to make it 2-1.

Lake City threatened with two runners on second and third and no outs the bottom of the fourth. Morgan came in for relief of RC starter Amanda Steig and, thanks to a double play, got out of the inning with no runs scored.

“The plan was to bring Courtney in later to finish,” Roger Steig said.

Sparked by the RC defense, the Coyote batting attack started picking up steam.

The Coyotes took the lead in the top of the fifth with two runs off Lake City reliever Maggie Eising. Brigham singled and Amanda Steig reach base on an error. Both scored on a wild pitch and throwing error on the same play.

Morgan and Taylor Steig scored on wild pitches in the sixth inning to make it 5-2. Emma Lockhart had an RBI infield hit and Morgan an RBI bounceout for a 7-2 lead in the top of the seventh.

Brigham had two singles to lead the RC offense.

“We didn’t panic but we did start slow,” Roger Steig said. “We were used to a lot more speed from their pitcher. It took us awhile to dial into that. Once we did, we were OK.”

Morgan was the winning pitcher, allowing only one hit and one walk in four complete innings.

Lake City's season ended at 11-16.

“We both hit the ball,” said Lake City coach Richard Sarau. “We came out strong. Our first inning was our strongest at bat. But there were a few bad errors on our part.”

The districts were originally set for Saturday but moved to Monday because of wet fields.

Reed City split with Manistee during the regular season.

“We just need to focus on defense,” Steig said. “Offensively, we’ve had good luck hitting. We haven’t been shut down. If we stay focused and have our pitchers throw strikes we’ll be in good shape.”