Clutch home runs power St. Clair softball past Lutheran North in regional final

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St. Clair's Audrey Schindler pitches against Macomb Lutheran North at Richmond High School during a Division 2 regional final on Saturday.

St. Clair’s Audrey Schindler pitches against Macomb Lutheran North at Richmond High School during a Division 2 regional final on Saturday.

RICHMOND — Hitting the long ball has taken the St. Clair softball team a long way. And the Saints continue to benefit.

They hit a total of three home runs to hold off Macomb Lutheran North 10-6 in a Division 2 regional final at Richmond High School on Saturday.

St. Clair improved to 23-13 overall and advanced to Tuesday’s quarterfinal against North Branch at Marysville City Park.

“We’re used to adversity,” St. Clair coach Libby Cody said of the game’s many lead changes. “We’ve had setbacks all year. So it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have some setback (in this one). We knew (Lutheran North) wasn’t going to fall over. They’re a good team, too. So we knew we had to fight and stay in it until the last out.”

“We knew everyone wasn’t expecting it to be us (as Region 15 champions),” St. Clair senior Addy Blank said. “They expected it to be Richmond or Marysville. We knew we wanted to prove everyone wrong. So that lit a spark in us to make a difference and leave everything on the field.”

The Saints opened the scoring on Madison Cole’s RBI double to left field in the top of the first inning. A few batters later, Gracie Pickelhaupt singled to right, scoring Cole from second base and making it a 2-0 lead.

After a scoreless first inning, Lutheran North’s bats woke up in the second.

A bases-loaded infield single put the Mustangs on the board. The next batter then hit a two-run single up the middle, giving the team the lead, 3-2, with one out.

St. Clair starting pitcher Audrey Schindler responded with back-to-back strikeouts to retire the side.

“It’s very comfortable to be on the mound right now,” Schindler said. “Because I throw with (catcher) Rachelle Schweihofer and I’ve been throwing with her since I was 10 years old. So we have that chemistry and know when to lock up and go.”

“Schindler has gotten better every game this postseason,” Cody said. “She really showed the senior experience of living through tough moments and overcoming them. She really came through for us.”

The Saints quickly regained the lead, 5-2, in the top of the third inning, with Pickelhaupt hitting a three-run homer to center field.

But the Mustangs wouldn’t go away quietly. A leadoff homerun in the bottom of the fourth inning left the team trailing 5-4. Hereafter, an infield single scored a runner from third base, tying the game at 5-5.

But once again St. Clair had an answer.

In the top of the fifth inning, Rylee Schneider hit a three-run shot to center field to put the Saints ahead, 8-5. They scored another run with an RBI single by Lilyana Martin.

Lutheran North got the run back in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double.

The Saints countered in the top of the sixth inning when Kadie Badger homered to left field on the first pitch of the inning. That ended the score: 10-6.

The state quarterfinal against North Branch is scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m

“We’ll just keep going,” Blank said. “We’re not done yet.”

Contact Brenden Welper at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @BrendenWelper.

This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: Clutch home runs St. Clair softball to regional title