HOLTON — Central Montcalm’s softball team faced a familiar foe with a trip to Michigan State University on the line.
Unfortunately, that familiar foe took revenge on the Green Hornets for beating them twice in the regular season.
The Holton Red Devils won their own regional Saturday when they beat Central 5-2 in the finals.
“That’s a good team,” Central coach Bruce Nicholson said of the Red Devils. “We played good and we battled.”
The Hornets (22-13) erased a one-run deficit after two innings with two runs in the third on a bunt by Parker Martin and an RBI double by Paige Switzer.
But Holton, who got to the finals thanks to a walk-off grand slam from Rachel Younts to beat LeRoy Pine River 7-4, got hits from their first three batters in the fourth and all scored. An RBI single from Jackie Stone was an insurance run in the fifth.
Meanwhile, Central couldn’t do much with Younts on the mound. Younts went the distance and gave up six hits, striking out 10, including the last three in the seventh.
“She (Younts) threw a great ball game,” Nicholson said. “Give credit to her. We didn’t hit her like we did the first time.”
The first time was when the Red Devils went to Central and lost both ends of a doubleheader to the Hornets.
“We hit better that night and their pitcher struggled,” Nicholson said. “She (Younts) didn’t throw as many strikes as she did (Saturday). She did walk a lot of kids at our place. But she straightened out and made all-conference.”
Switzer took the loss after giving up 10 hits and striking out six without a walk. She also had two of the six Hornet hits.
Stone was 3-for-3 for Holton, and Younts and katie Wildfong had two each.
Central got to the finals after handing the Manistee Chippewas just their fourth loss on the season with a 9-1 win.
The Hornets jumped out early on the Chippewas, scoring twice in the first inning and four in the second inning to lead 6-0 after just two innings.
“We knew what we were going to see and we had a good report on it,” Nicholson said. “We worked on Manistee got one in the third when Haley Misner doubled, went to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch.
But the Hornets got RBIs from Saydee Rowland and Makayla Studley in the fourth and another run in the fifth to get the win.
Switzer got the win when she threw a complete-game six hitter, striking out two and walking three.
Misner took the loss after going just four innings and allowing six hits, walking one and fanning two. The Chippewas hurt their own cause by committing four errors.
“That’s not typical of their team,” Nicholson said. “That’s not typical of their pitcher. She usually has a 1.000 fielding percentage and doesn’t walk kids. We took advantage of their (Manistee’s) miscues and got some big two-out hits. We ran the bases aggressively and took some chances.”
Studley was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs, and Rowland was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
“This season was amazing. It changed my life forever,” Nicholson said. “We set a goal to win a district title and we did that. I don’t think Central Montcalm has ever won a regional game and we did that. We lost a tight, close one in the finals. We’ll move forward, and we have some kids coming back who know what it’s like to be here and hopefully we’ll get them back.”