When Dansville plays Rapid River in the state softball semifinals today at Bailey Park in Battle Creek, history will be made for one of the two schools.
Each team has advanced to the state semifinals for the third time in four years, but neither school has ever sent a team to the state championship game.
The Aggies (30-5) will look to erase the memory of losing 10-1 to eventual Division 4 state champion Petersburg-Summerfield in their last trip to Battle Creek for the 2010 semifinals, while the Rockets (35-5) still sting from a 12-0 drubbing at the hands of Unionville-Sebewaing in last season’s semis.
Dansville will look to its potent offense to propel them to the state finals. Evy Lobdell leads the way with a .500 batting average and 48 RBI, and teammate Bekah Guy is hitting .424 with five home runs, but the hits go deep into the Aggies’ batting order.
Five different players had multiple-hit games in Dansville’s 9-3 win over Allen Park Inter-City Baptist in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Paige Galbreath is carrying a hot bat for the Aggies, knocking in three runs in their 5-2 win over Fowler in Saturday’s regional final, and two more in the quarterfinal.
“Different people got key hits for us at different times,” Dansville coach Mick Ream said. “That’s a big key for us. If one person isn’t hitting, then someone else steps up. Even some of the ones that were caught were stung, that’s a good sign.”
But winning in softball always comes down to pitching, and sophomore Meagan Kelly has grown into the job. Ream said that Kelly’s outing in the quarterfinal, in which she pitched out of two different bases-loaded jams, showed her quality in the circle.
“She’s not pitching like a sophomore,” Ream said.
“At the beginning of the year, she’d have struggled with that, but she did an awesome job. She’s the one leading us right now.”
Ream said that he is quietly confident that his team can take the next step in the state final four.
“We need to come into the state (finals) focused, just keep them in a good playing position, and just keep doing what we’ve been doing,” he said.
“This group of girls has worked their butts off, and it’s the best overall team I’ve had. I’ve had better players, but position-for-position, this is the best team.”