When Eaton Rapids takes the field tonight at Ranney Park to defend its Softball Classic title, it will do so with a head of steam.
The Greyhounds wrapped up the CAAC Gold title in a big way, beating fellow Classic semifinalist Mason decisively, 11-1 and 16-1 Monday. The wins stretched the program’s league winning streak to 58 games.
The sweep of the Bulldogs came not a moment too soon for Eaton Rapids coach Scott Warriner. His previously undefeated Greyhounds lost all four games they played in a tournament over the weekend, albeit with six players, including four starters, not available out of 16 players on the roster. Those losses were to Fenton, Farmington Hills Mercy, Walled Lake Western and Livonia Franklin.
“We needed to get our momentum back, we had a really tough day on Saturday,” Warriner said. “We had three of our starters back (against Mason), so we got most of the girls back in their positions and played really well. We really needed it for our confidence to bounce back.”
The lone starter that did not return, and will not play in the Classic, is outfielder Libby Prieskorn, who suffered a cut on her forehead that required 16 stitches.
“She’s a big loss,” Warriner said. “She’s an outstanding defensive player for us in center field, and she’s also one of our best hitters. She usually bats fourth or fifth for us and she’s having an outstanding season.”
Eaton Rapids has won four of the last five titles, and finished as runner-up in the fifth. With seven-time champion Okemos in the other semifinal, a potential final against the Chieftains would have the cachet of history about it.
But Warriner is careful to not overlook his semifinal matchup against Fowler, which would appear on the surface to be a mismatch.
“I expect all three games to be really tough battles,” he said. “Fowler has played really well this year, and we don’t take them for granted in any way. Some teams just match up with you better than others, and they beat their two opponents (in Classic pool play) pretty good. I’ve been following them all year.”