Lady Pioneers blank Hornets to win district title

June 6, 2019

By Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

Photos by Shannon Zinser

The Lady Pioneers hoist their district title trophy high ending the district game 3-0 against the Hornets. Giving Clare it’s first district softball championship in 10 years.

The Clare softball team had dominating pitching performance and just enough offense on Saturday. The Lady Pioneers, playing Harrison in the Houghton Lake division three district title game was able to use both to edge the Lady Hornets 3-0, giving Clare its first district championship in over 10 years.

“The girls worked hard for it,” head coach Jeff Albert said. “Harrison played very well, for it to be a 3-0 game, that’s well played on both parts. We’re just happy, that was a goal from the beginning of our season, to win our district.”

The Pioneers were able to score a run in the bottom of the first as Abby Mellish touched the plate on an Amber Hochstetler double. Clare made it 2-0 in the bottom of the second, with Payton Pace tagging up to score on a sacrifice fly by Brooklyn Tocco. The score remained 2-0 until the bottom of the sixth, when Jayce Jordan was able to come in to score on an RBI single by Mellish.

Clare’s Amber Hochstetler smacks one of her two home runs during Saturday’s district semi-final win over Farwell. 

This would be all Mellish would need as she tossed all seven innings, facing just 25 batters in the game. She gave up one hit, struck out 10 batters and walked two.

“She had a great game, to throw a shutout in a district championship game, you can’t ask for anymore out of your pitcher then that,” Albert said.
Mellish and Hostetler finished with two hits apiece to pace the offense.
“Our defense played very well and they took a lot of pressure off of Abby pitching,” Albert said. “That allowed her to use her stuff and be confident out there.”

Emily Lipovsky took the loss for the Hornets while Sara Gillespie had the team’s lone base hit.

Clare reached the championship game with an 11-3 win over Farwell earlier in the day.

Mellish was the winner in that one as well, as she pitched seven inning and gave up three runs on six hits, 11 strikeouts and one walk.

Hochstetler had the big game on offense as she hit a solo home run in the second for the team’s first run and then she hit a two run bomb in the third, in what was a seven run third inning, which gave Clare an 8-1 lead. The Pioneers scored three more runs in the top of the sixth to hold an 11-1 edge, with the Eagles getting their final two runs in the bottom of the sixth.

“The home runs really sparked us,” Albert said. “After that everyone was productive throughout the line-up, whether it was hits, a sacrifice fly or getting a walk, everyone contributed. It was a good way to play a ball game.”

Hochstetler and Mellish finished with three hits apiece and Monica McPhall and Jordan had two hits each.

Emma Swarthout and Allison Lake shared time pitching for Farwell, combing to give up 11 runs on 14 hits. Lake struck out one batter.
Maddie Nunn had two RBI to pace the Eagle offense.

Farwell finishes the season 19-12.

Clare (21-12) hosts regionals on Saturday, playing McBain in the semi-finals. Standish-Sterling and Hesperia play in the other semi-final with the winner moving on to Tuesday’s quarterfinal game in Gaylord.

“We couldn’t ask for anything better, being able to play regionals at home, with our home crowd,” Albert said. “The girls are really excited about that and we are going to try to keep it going and keep playing good softball.”

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