Brethren wins Bobcat Tourney

Brethren’s Lexi Lakso delivers a pitch during the title game against Lake City on Saturday during the Bobcat Tournament. The Bobcats won the championship with a 5-4 victory over the Trojans. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Bobcats top Trojans with walk-off win

BRETHREN — Danielle Brenner kept her eyes affixed to first base and assumed the worst behind her.

Her two-strike, two-out slow roller down the third base line was barely hit hard enough to make it to the bag, and with the bases loaded and the game tied, a force out at any base would have sent the contest to extra innings.

So, did Brenner feel like Brethren would score the winning run when the ball left her bat?

“No,” she said emphatically afterwards. “I didn’t even want to look back.”

A bobbled Lake City exchange for the force at home plate, however, gave Brethren the Bobcat Tournament victory as Annie MacNeil scored the game-winning run to end Saturday’s championship with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Trojans.

“I just wanted to make contact,” Brenner said of her job at the plate. “We feel like we deserve this. We’ve been working really hard all season.”

The Bobcats rallied back from a 4-0 deficit against Lake City, scoring the game’s final five runs — one in the fourth, and two apiece in the fifth and sixth — to win the second annual Bobcat Tournament. Brethren lost both of its game in the inaugural event last season.

“The thing we’ve been stressing with these girls is to never quit,” said Brethren coach Jason McElrath. “When we’re down, we’re going to come back. And that’s what they did.

“They made some early mistakes but kept fighting.”

Despite a solid outing in the circle by starter Lexi Lakso, fielding errors hurt the Bobcats early as Lake City plated a run in the first, two in the second and one in the fourth — only one of which was earned.

“Basically, we’ve been talking to the girls a lot about when you play better teams, errors are runs,” McElrath said. “We committed seven errors in that final game, and they committed one. The one they committed happened to cost them the game.”

Lakso finished the championship with five strikeouts while allowing four hits and three walks. She also had one of Brethren’s three hits at the plate — a big two-out RBI single in the final inning to tie the game and set the table for Brenner’s final at-bat.

Brethren’s Sarah Colbrook had an RBI double in the fourth to get her team on the board, while Elana Hickok also finished the game with a hit.

The Bobcats scored two runs on wild pitches in the fifth inning, and held the Trojans scoreless in the top of the sixth.

While down 4-3 in the bottom half, Brethren led off with a groundout, but drew three straight walks to load the bases. After a Lake City pitching change, a Bobcat strikeout put the pressure on Lakso, who knocked in the tying run. Brenner’s at-bat quickly turned to an 0-2 count before she knocked the grounder that turned into the winning run.

“It’s a tough situation up there, but they did a great job,” McElrath said of batting in with the pressure on late in the game. “This year we’ve been living and dying with the bat, and once we finally got it going, we got the pitcher flustered and kept plugging away.

“I think that instills confidence in the girls, which is what we want. They believe they can win.”

The Bobcats’ title game win was preceded by a 17-10 victory over Forest Area in the tournament’s semifinal. Lake City topped the eventual third-place finisher, Ludington, on the other side of the bracket.

Brethren and Forest Area were tied at 8 runs apiece after the fifth inning, and due to the tournament’s time limitations were forced to instill an international tie-breaker, which puts a runner on second to start each team’s at-bat in the final frame.

Brethren scored nine runs in the top half of the tie-break inning before holding Forest Area to just two for the win.

Lakso threw a complete game, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out seven batters.

At the plate, Colbrook led the way with two doubles and two RBIs while Cailon Modjeski had a hit and a pair of RBIs and Lakso had a hit and an RBI. Brethren’s Siarra Lopez knocked a triple and plated five runs.

“We can hopefully take this momentum while moving forward, and especially with conference games coming up,” McElrath said. “We want to build on this.”

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from the Bobcat Tournament.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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