Very few will remember the turbulent spring days Mendon’s varsity softball team lost games it felt it should have won, or the mistakes that piled up as a young squad figured out how to come together as a unit.
None of that matters now after the Hornets hoisted a Division 4 regional trophy Saturday at Hudson — the program’s first since 1992. Mendon defeated North Adams-Jerome 6-2 in the semifinals and pounded Camden-Frontier 13-3 in the championship game, setting up a state quarterfinal contest against Kalamazoo Christian Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at Bailey Park in Battle Creek.
The memories that will be held dear for years to come will be ones of celebratory screams and mitten-shaped mementoes.
The Hornets have a pocket full of house money and they’re growing more confident with each passing postseason victory.
“Right now is the time,” Mendon coach Christina Duchene said. “This is what we have worked for all year.”
And it was a lot of work. The Hornets (18-16) had to replace their starting catcher, shortstop, a pitcher and a third baseman from 2016. With three freshmen, two sophomores, two juniors and only two seniors starting this season, Duchene said it took time for things to gel.
“We had a lot of work to do and it has paid off,” she said.
Hannah Duchene put in some serious work Saturday, starting with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate and a complete-game pitching victory in the opener against North Adams-Jerome. She drove in a total of four runs and only allowed one hit on top of 11 strikeouts. Lauren Lash doubled and had two singles, and Cassie Plummer, Abby Miller and Cierra Nightingale each singled for the Hornets.
Mendon scored a run in the first and third innings before adding two more in the top of the fifth and two in the seventh.
In the championship, Duchene was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and three RBI. Lash laced a home run and a single for three RBI, Kennedy Hawkins registered a double and a single with a RBI, and Plummer, Hannah Frye (double) and Miller (double) had hits. Plummer, Juliana Hagenbuch, Amaijha Bailey (two) and Frye (two) drove in runs.
Plummer cruised to the victory in the circle after scattering six hits, allowing three earned runs, collecting three strikeouts and issuing no walks.
“Cassie Plummer and Hannah Duchene, both of those girls pretty much led our team through regionals today,” Christina Duchene said. “Amaijha Bailey did an outstanding job in centerfield and Lauren Lash hit a home run today that really got us pumped up. Those four girls right there are outstanding players.”
Christina Duchene also noted how impressed she was with Hagenbuch’s effort at second base throughout the day.
It’s how the team hoped it would be playing at the end of the year.
“Our offense started coming together,” Christina Duchene said. “We struggled with errors and we’ve cut those down. We’re starting to hit the ball and that’s what we need to do. I think they’re comfortable right now. I don’t want them to be too comfortable; I always want them to be working hard. But I think they are gelling as a team and our defense has just improved so much.”
Photos by Nicci Plummer