Gladstone shuts down Reed City

Coyotes can’t come up with offense in season-ending loss to Braves

TRAVERSE CITY — Gladstone softball coach Gerald Smith had an inking that sophomore right-hand pitcher Christine Sharon might be too tough for the Reed City Coyotes to handle in Tuesday’s Division 3 quarterfinal game at Traverse City West. He was right. Sharon allowed only two baserunners, struck out 14 batters and retired the last 17 in a row to lead Gladstone to an 8-0 victory over Reed City. While Gladstone, 26-5-1, advances to the state semifinals on Friday in Battle Creek, the Coyotes’ season ends at 29-10. Gladstone was held in check by Reed City right-hander Courtney Morgan before breaking through for a run in the fourth inning. The Braves added three runs in the fifth and four in the seventh. Sharon fanned the first four Coyote batters before allowing a one-out double to Morgan in the bottom of the second. Taylor Steig followed with a single but Sharon fanned the next two Reed City batters. She then retired the Coyotes in the next five innings in one-two-three fashion. Smith explained his decision to go with Sharon. “The feedback was that (Reed City) struggled with the fastball,” he said. “She had a lot of strikeouts. We guessed this one right.” Reed City coach Roger Steig was impressed with Sharon’s peroformance. “She just brought the heat,” said Reed City coach Roger Steig. “She had more heat than anybody we’ve seen this year.” Morgan went 6 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs on 11 hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Sam McDonald finished the game in the top of the seventh. “Nobody could hit well (Tuesday),” Morgan said. “They have a great team and good defense.” Steig said he thought his team showed signs of nerves on Tuesday. “We played tighter than we normally play,” said Roger Steig. “I don’t think we were relaxed in the field as we needed to be. We wanted to go farther. (Tuesday) was a disappointment for us.” The Braves were having problems breaking through until the fourth when Alex Sanders delivered an RBI single for a 1-0 lead. The backbreaker for the Coyotes came in the fifth when the Braves scored three times after the first two batters were retired. Jordan Schwartz was safe on an error and scored on Jordan Kowalski’s RBI single. Jamie Botruff and Nicole Sharon followed with RBI singles. “We put it together that one inning,” Smith said. “It seemed like we couldn’t get started.” “I thought we could catch up to their pitcher,” Roger Steig said. “I don’t know why we didn’t. We were off at the plate.” In the seventh, Sharon delivered an RBI double and scored on a wild pitch. Christine Sharon followed with a two-run single. The loss ended a 5-0 postseason run for Reed City to take the district and regional titles. “It felt good to get this far,” said Morgan, one of five seniors on the team, along with Sydni Arnold, McDonald, Amanda Steig and Ally Stieg. It will be a difficult class to see leave the program, Steig said. “It’s always sad to see your seniors go,” he said. “We have five talented seniors leaving us.”