Chippewas split with rival Orioles

MANISTEE — Manistee softball hosted Ludington Tuesday with second place in the Lakes 8 Conference on the line. A sweep for either team would have meant sole possession of the runner-up spot in the conference. The Chippewas won the opener 11-10 when Emma Witkowski hit a walk-off, but Manistee’s bats went cold in Game 2 and Ludington won 6-1.

With the split, the two teams finish tied for second place in the Lakes 8. Muskegon Orchard View won the conference title.

The bases were loaded when Emma Witkowski stepped in the batter’s box in the bottom of the seventh with the Chippewas facing a 10-9 deficit. Ludington had scored three runs in the top of the inning to take the lead, but Witkowski blasted a shot into left field, scoring Erin Dorn and Taylor Murray to give Manistee the win.

“Just a huge hit,” said Manistee head coach Ross Vander Weele. “Emma is an enormous talent. She’s a great talent and has a lot to offer a team at the next level.”

Witkowski had an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth as well, driving in Ashley Walle to put Manistee up 8-7 before pushing the Chippewas’ lead to two when Cheyenne Renner drove her in with a single.

The two teams played at Ludington on April 23, with the Orioles taking the opener 4-3 and Manistee winning the nightcap 6-5.

Manistee scored five runs in the first and led 7-2 after three innings. The Orioles scored four runs in the fourth and tied things up in the fifth before the Chippewas’ bats heated back up.

“We’ve got a lot of young kids,” Vander Weele said. “They helped get us in that position but they also helped get us out of that position. We still have some growing up to do. We probably shouldn’t haven’t been in a tie ballgame in the seventh inning.”

Dorn finished the game 4-for-4 with two doubles, a triple and an RBI. Walle batted 4-for-5, Witkowski was 3-for-5 with two doubles and four RBIs and Renner finished 2-for-4 with a double and four RBIs.

Witkowski toed the circle in the opener, allowing 12 hits, nine runs and one earned while striking out seven in seven innings.

Manistee struggled at the plate in the nightcap, and after Walle scored on an error in the fourth inning, the Chippewas were down 5-1.

Manistee managed just two hits in Game 2, with Madelynn Verheek going 1-for-3 with a double and Addy Witkowski going 1-for-3.

Verheek was the starting pitcher in the nightcap, giving up nine hits, five runs and two earned while striking out one in three innings. Emma Witkowski pitched four innings of relief, allowing six hits and one earned while striking out two.

The Chippewas are young and Vander Weele hopes the players realize how much potential they have.

“For our age, we’re probably playing right where we should be,” he said. “We expect more out of them, but they haven’t learned to expect it out of themselves yet. They’re still learning.”

The Chippewas head to Frankfort on Friday for a doubleheader at 4:15 p.m.

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