Braves advance to finals

EAST LANSING – High school softball games like this just don’t happen. But every so often, they do.

A pair of determined teams took the field at Secchia Stadium in East Lansing Friday for the MHSAA Division 3 softball state semifinal.

When it looked like Gladstone had it in the bag, Coloma made the Braves think twice, literally, as in back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the seventh, a late two-out charge to rally and tie the game.

Gladstone was able to shake it off and after some brilliant baserunning from Christine Sharon, came away with a 5-4 victory in eight innings.

The Braves had a commanding 4-1 lead entering the bottom of the seventh and their ace, Sharon, on the mound.

Gladstone was rolling right along and after giving up a single to Kristin Potter, Coloma was slapped with two outs on a strikeout and flyout.

Then came Jenna Faultersack up to bat. She promptly launched a two-run homer over the right field fence and suddenly, the Comets had life.

The bases were clear when Lexee Summers came up to bat.

She took the first pitch Sharon threw and also hit it over the fence in right-centerfield. Back to back blasts, boom, boom, game tied.

“It’s crazy how the momentum goes back and forth,” Braves manager Ashley Hughes said. “You can see it. Coloma with their two home runs, that was massive.”

Heads were hanging among the Braves after the second home run that tied the game at 4-4. Hughes called a brief timeout and rallied the team.

“You never know what’s going to happen in these types of games,” she said. “It’s a game of inches. One missed pitch, one error on defense, and those things helped us out too. “

Sharon got Coloma pitcher Emily Najacht to ground out and end the inning. The Braves had new life entering the top of the eighth.

Sharon, who back in the first rolled her ankle on the mound, led off with a single, her first of the game. It would be the only hit the Braves needed.

Sadie Strasser hit a ground ball to advance Sharon to second, and with some smart base-running, she ran for third. Coloma’s throw to third was off, allowing Sharon to run for home, where she scored what would be the game winner.

“Tinner’s baserunning in the eighth, I wouldn’t want anyone else on the bases in that situation,” said Hughes. “She saw the bobble and she just kept cruising. She was like, screw the pain, I don’t care, I just want to score.”

Gladstone (29-2) advances to the Division 3 state title game today at 3 p.m. against Unionville-Sebewaing Area. USA advanced by defeating Clinton 7-5 in its semifinal.