Reed City softball falls in district opener to Manton, 6-5

By Martin Slagter
Pioneer Sports Editor

EVART— A four-run sixth inning for Manton spelled trouble for the Reed City softball team, ending their season with a 6-5 loss in district play on Wednesday at Evart High School.

The Coyotes looked to be in control of the game, holding a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning with two outs, but a pair of fielding errors for Reed City and a bases-clearing double off the center field wall by Olivia Kunkel gave the Rangers a 6-4 lead they would not relinquish.

Reed City’s Sydni Arnold would add an RBI single in the seventh to cut the lead to 6-5, but the Coyotes couldn’t add another run in a disappointing loss.

“We had two outs, but we had a couple of drops on pop-ups and another error that shouldn’t have happened,” Reed City coach Roger Steig said. “We let them back in the game, but I thought our girls played tough. Manton is a quality team, and I don’t want to take anything away from them, but we just made a couple mistakes.”

The Coyotes didn’t struggle on offense, collecting 10 hits, led by Courtney Morgan, Sam McDonald, Arnold and Alex Baughan with two hits apiece. Baughan and Arnold added two RBIs each. Morgan pitched all six innings for Reed City, striking out four batters while giving up eight hits.

Steig said he was pleased with his team’s hitting performance on Wednesday.

“We’ve been a great hitting team all season,” he said. “The Manton pitcher was good out there (Wednesday) and we were still able to hit her.”

After falling behind 2-0 early, Reed City would score the next four runs of the game, starting with an RBI single by Baughan in the fourth inning to make it 2-1. Reed City would add three more runs in the fifth inning, starting with an RBI single by Morgan. Arnold would then add an RBI double off the wall to give the Coyotes a 3-2 lead. A bloop single by Baughan would drop later in the inning to give Reed City a 4-2 lead.

The Rangers (25-8) would come up with key hits when needed the most, however, to get the win, Manton coach Tiffany Rehkopf said.

“Our goal coming into the game was to give 100 percent effort and have fun,” she said. “We never gave up.”

The difference in the Rangers breaking through during the sixth inning was a more aggressive approach at the plate, Rehkopf said.

“They just went up there with no pressure,” she said. “They were swinging at strikes. Our freshman (Olivia Kunkel) was the one who came up with the big hit for us.”

Despite the loss, Steig said he is encouraged by the progress his young team has made throughout the year.

“When you look at where we were at the beginning of the year, it’s quite remarkable the progress we’ve made,” he said. “We’ve only got one senior on this team, so we’ll have almost everyone back next year.”