When Portland St. Patrick faces Ubly in today’s Division 4 softball state quarterfinal at Saginaw Valley State University, they will see a team somewhat similar to themselves.
Both teams hit the ball with ferocity, as shown in their postseason run production.
Ubly (24-6) breezed through its district tournament by outscoring its three opponents by a combined score of 35-0, and continued its torrid hitting in the regional tournament, which it won by a score of 10-3 in the final over Mio.
“They’re a decent team,” St. Pats coach Chris Battley said. “Their three and four hitters have some power. They’re not awfully fast on defense, but they do play good defense.”
St. Pats (32-6) may have the edge in depth of hitting. They have four batters hitting over .400: Jennifer Bosworth, Elle Lehman, Brittni Wilcox and Marin Pline. Lehman leads the team in home runs and runs batted in, and had the game-winning RBI in the Shamrocks’ extra-inning win over Webberville in the regional semifinals.
And that depth of hitting prowess showed in St. Pats’ regional final as well, scoring 18 runs in their two games, getting home runs from Bosworth and Riley Smith and six runs batted in by Lehman. Smith, a sophomore, is the ninth hitter in the Shamrocks’ batting order.
“We’ve had some spurts where we didn’t hit the ball for a couple of innings, but I knew the kids were going to come around,” Battley said. “They just got a couple of hits back-to-back, and it gets contagious.”
St. Pats has another talented sophomore, Wilcox, in the pitching circle. With a personal record of 31-5 this season, Battley said that she is now a seasoned veteran.
“She’s playing like a junior or senior,” he said. “When you need her to, she’ll make three great pitches in a row and keep them off balance.”
Battley said that his biggest advantage is playing in the CMAC, which includes reigning Division 4 state champion Dansville, with which St. Pats shared the league title, 2013 district champion Saranac and teams like Fowler and Fulton which could have done some damage in the state tournament had they emerged from St. Pats’ district.
“We play in the toughest (Class) C and D conference in the state,” he said. “And that helps us, the longer we keep playing.”
If the Shamrocks win on Tuesday, they will face either Concord or Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in the Division 4 semifinals at Bailey Park Battle Creek at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, for the right to play for the state championship on Saturday.