While McKenzie Sheteron will be happy with just being a bridesmaid on Saturday, the rest of her Centreville teammates are looking to all be the proverbial brides after the Bulldogs moved on to Saturday’s Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 4 state title game by defeating Unionville-Sebewaing Area, 4-0, in East Lansing in Friday’s semifinal round.
Sheteron was a huge part of Centreville’s victory Friday after going 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and a huge defensive play that kept USA from mounting a comeback in the sixth inning. Sheteron broke the news that her tournament was finished. Coleman, Centreville’s opponent in the championship game Saturday at 5:30 p.m., probably is happy to hear it.
“It feels great to move on,” Sheteron said, “but I can’t make it tomorrow. My sister’s getting married and family first. I’ll definitely be paying attention on GameChanger (a website that live tracks games) and with updates on my phone throughout the game.”
Now, Bulldogs coach Scott Logan has to find a way to replace her production in the No. 3 spot in the lineup and at second base.
“We’re going to have to slide some things around tomorrow,” Logan said, “It’s kind of an unfortunate situation, but we’ll make it work.”
Friday’s semifinal started off as a pitcher’s duel, with Centreville’s Hannah Duchene and USA’s Katelyn Englehardt allowing only one combined hit through the first 3 innings. Duchene gave up just three hits and struck out eight batters in seven innings.
“Hannah was just amazing today, she fights through and showed her tenacity,” said Logan, “I hope she can get some rest tonight.”
Leading off the top of the fourth, Sheteron drilled a shot past the first baseman and proceeded to make her way around the bases with timely sacrifices by Joanna Larsen and Duchene. Standing on third base, Sheteron took advantage of a ball 4 passed ball that made its way to the backstop to cross home plate for the Bulldogs’ first run.
Heading into the bottom of the fourth with a 1-0 lead, Duchene knew that she was going to have to count on her defense to help her hang on. After giving up USA’s first hit and a subsequent walk, a pop foul to left was snagged on a dead sprint for the third out by left fielder Olivia Deeds to get Duchene out of trouble.
Centreville tried to open the game up in the fifth, loading the bases following three walks, but Englehardt used the USA defense behind her to get out of the jam after Larsen grounded out to the shortstop to end the rally.
The Patriots tried a rally of their own in the sixth, with Englehardt ripping a warning track double to right-center. But again, Sheteron was there to help her team, as the next batter hit a pop up into shallow right field that the second baseman caught running away from the infield and turned and gunned out Englehardt at third after she attempted to tag up to end the inning.
With the sunlight starting to shift, the Bulldogs were able take advantage of some hard hit balls in the top of the seventh. Kaylee Trattles started the inning with a shot to right, and following an error on a fielder’s choice, moved to second as Jaeden Blades took first. A walk to Makenzi Troyer loaded the bases and brought Sheteron to the plate. Another USA passed ball allowed Trattles to score, and in the ensuing commotion, Blades tried to score but was tagged out. Sheteron singled to second, moving Troyer to third. Larsen stepped to the plate and drilled a shot to right field to score Troyer, and following an error by the third baseman, Sheteron crossed the plate to finish the Bulldogs’ scoring at 4-1.
“It was what we expected,” said Logan, “They are a tough ball club. They’ve been here before and they are much more familiar with this system. I don’t think the win has sunk in yet, but these girls just keep playing hard and relaxed and they are just having fun.”
Photos by Brett Beier and Nicci Plummer