Pine River girls claim fourth straight district championship
EVART — Danielle Nixon realizes it’s critical for teams to take it one game at a time in the postseason.
But the Pine River center fielder and her teammates enjoyed the school’s fourth straight Division 3 softball district title by defeating Evart 11-1 in six innings on Saturday at Evart.
The Bucks won the first game 11-1 over Manton in five innings.
“We just all hit the ball very well and played real good defense,” Nixon said. “We kept everything going throughout the day.”
Evart defeated Pine River in the second game of a doubleheader earlier this year but the Bucks dominated this time with solid hitting.
“We knew Evart and Manton were there to beat us but we kept hitting well and had good defense,” Nixon said. “It felt really good to win. At the beginning of the season, we had a few ups and downs.”
The Bucks had graduated several key players from last season’s team.
“We finally put everything together,” Nixon said. “There are still things we need to work on. We’ll work hard. We want to get as far as we can.”
Nixon has been upbeat about her own performances this season.
“I’ve been impressed because I’ve kept my hitting up and have done well defensively too,” she said. “I’ve really been impressed with our team’s whole season.”
Pine River pitcher Miranda Nelson was the winning pitcher in both games.
In the first game, Nelson gave up two hits, four walks and five strikeouts. Brooke Sebastiano was 3-for-3, Jandney Mattson added two hits including a double, while Christy and Miranda Nelson had two hits. Nixon had one hit and three RBIs. Tiffany Waldfogel had a hit and Cayman Gatt added a double.
“Our team finally started hitting the ball,” said Nelson. “We caught up with (Manton pitcher Emily Bode).”
“Against Manton, we scored seven of our runs with two outs,” said Pine River coach Laura Mumby. “Brooke Sebastiano had a single with the bases loaded that started a huge inning for us.”
The Bucks had split with Evart during the regular season.
“It was one of our down moments,” Miranda Nelson said. “We had to come back. We watched them celebrate on our field. Now we were able to celebrate on theirs.”
“Miranda is pitching very well,” Mumby said. “She throws better in the heat and we got some heat on Saturday. She’s really coming through.”
Nelson delivered three hits as did Nixon. Chelsea Nelson had a three-run triple, Waldfogel added a single and Sebastiano had a hit with two RBIs.
The Bucks have advanced to the state quarterfinals the last two years.
‘Pine River plays Central Montcalm at Lakeview on Saturday in a regional semifinal game. Manistee and Kent City are in the other bracket.
“It’s very possible,” Nelson said of another regional title. “We play (Central Montcalm) who was at our home tournament. But we didn’t play them because they lost to Cadillac. It should be a pretty good.”
“I’ve seen them play,” Mumby said. “They’re definitely a team that is beatable but they’re nobody to overlook, absolutely.”
Pine River is 30-10.
“We split with both Manton and Evart during the regular season but came back and mercied both teams,” Mumby said. “We’re definitely playing on our game right now.”
Reed City eliminated Pine River’s hopes of contending for a district title by defeating the Bucks 5-2 at Evart on Saturday in the first game of the Division 3 districts.
Lincoln Erickson took the loss and allowed four runs in 2.1 innings. Reed City scored their runs in the first three innings. Nick Warner took over to shut down the Coyotes.
Nick Warner had a double and was walked three times. Anthony Hilkowski had two hits.
“We left 13 runners on base,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert. “We left too many on base. We had runners in scoring position every inning but we could not push them across. It was one of those games where they got the baserunners on and made the most of it. We struggled trying to get things to go our way.”
Pine River ends the season at 24-7.