When Saturday morning began, 12 teams played in four pools at the East Lansing Softball Complex as part of the 34th Annual Softball Classic.
Only four were able to move on at the end of the day.
Mason, Eaton Rapids, Fowler and Okemos advanced to the semifinals on Tuesday at Ranney Park in Lansing. Each of the four pool winners won both of their games.
Eaton Rapids moved its overall record to 24-0 with wins over Pewamo-Westphalia and St. Johns. The 3-2 win over the Redwings came in the last inning.
“We’re doing a good job of finding a way and plugging away and we’ve had a lot of games like that where we keep pushing and finally in the sixth or seventh inning we get the job done,” Eaton Rapids coach Scott Warriner said. “I’d like to do a little better job of jumping on teams earlier, but we haven’t really been good at that this year. …
“That was a great test that St. Johns gave us and we knew they would. They’ve got some speed, they’ve got good athletes and they’ve got a good coach and that will definitely help prepare us (for the next round).
The Greyhounds, who have won the past three Classics and four of the past five, entered the tournament as the second seed. Holt was seeded first but lost to Mason in its second game after beating Bath in its first game of the day. Mason ultimately won the group with a 2-1 win over Bath.
Mason will play Okemos in the semifinals on Tuesday. Okemos opened with a 9-4 win over Waverly and then handed Dansville its first loss of the season with a 2-1 victory to clinch the group.
“We knew with how good they (Dansville) were with their pitching and catching,” Okemos coach Chrissy Schoonover said. “We were going to have to play close to a perfect game to compete with them, but I knew we had a chance because we had just played Holt this week and had a phenomenal game against them.
“It’s a great task to beat a team of that caliber. It’s amazing that we won, but to play the way we did and take down such a great team, it’s great for my program.”
The Chiefs won just eight games last season and were 4-9 in the CAAC Blue.
“It’s great just to know that we’re hanging with these elite teams, beating some elite teams and now we’re moving on,” Schoonover said.
Fowler took the final pool, but had to get out of a jam in the final inning of their last game with Haslett in order to advance.
The Eagles entered the bottom of the seventh inning up 7-4 after trailing 4-1 earlier in the game. Haslett had already pushed two runs across and had runners on second and third base with no one out.
But Sydney Feldpausch, who pitched Fowler to victory in its first pool play game against Lakewood and was a reliever in the Haslett game after the Vikings plated four runs in the second inning, struck out consecutive hitters and got a ground out to end the game.
“I was obviously tired towards the end and I just made sure to take my time, take a breath, focus and work on getting open so it would be a strike,” Feldpausch said. “I knew I could count on my team if they hit the ball to get the out.”
A Haslett win would have created a three-way tie at 1-1 between Fowler, Lakewood and Haslett.
“That was very tight,” Fowler coach Kat Schmitt said of the finish with the Vikings. “They had enough to close it out. (Sydney) came in and did a solid job.”
Fowler will play Eaton Rapids in the other semifinal on Tuesday.