FOWLERVILLE – Megan Doyle didn’t get many opportunities to hit during the season.
The Lansing Catholic pitcher wanted to prove herself Saturday and help her team more than just in the circle
And Doyle made her point.
Doyle stepped up with two home runs and five RBI for Lansing Catholic in Saturday’s Division 2 regional final. It just wasn’t enough for the Cougars, who suffered an 8-6 loss to Alma in the championship contest at Fowlerville.
The loss ended an unexpected state tournament run for the Cougars, who rallied to beat DeWitt in last week’s district final and then avenged earlier losses to league rival Eaton Rapids on Saturday to earn a shot at a regional title.
“We really found ourselves in the last few weeks and we really pulled through and worked really hard to finish our season strong,” said Doyle, who added a double in the title game.
The tournament run has been equally unexpected for Alma, which had a number of freshmen and sophomores contribute to its regional title.
“No way in the world we expected this this year,” Alma coach Phil Block said. “It’s kind of a Cinderella story with this group. We’ve got seven freshman or sophomore starters of our nine. Everything is a bonus for us. It’s great for the town, it’s great for our softball program.”
And the regional title was also for missing teammate and starting junior shortstop Evelyn VanDeMark, who is fighting bone cancer.
“She worked her butt off and the team remembers her,” Block said. “She worked all winter and she’s a swimmer. She’s fighting this cancer and we’re all behind her.”
Alma (23-17) never trailed in the title game, jumping out to a 5-0 lead while capturing a regional title for the first time since 2002.
But Doyle did her part to give the Cougars (17-17) a shot. She had a two-run home run in the second inning and then capped a four-run fourth with a three-run homer that cut Alma’s lead to 7-6.
Sophomore Amanda Efaw then took over in the circle and kept Lansing Catholic scoreless the rest of the way. Efaw hurled four scoreless innings and allowed just two base runners
One of those base runners was Doyle, who had a one-out double in the sixth. But Efaw got a ground out and a diving catch by her center fielder to help Alma maintain its lead.
“It was close,” Lansing Catholic coach Hub Waite said of his team’s comeback attempt. “I can’t say enough about the kids. They fought hard, they hit well.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.