Local Sports Journal

One swing of the bat might have cost the Oakridge softball team a shot at the state semifinals.

Gladstone’s Jessica Beaudry delivered a bases-loaded double in the first inning Wednesday, giving her team an early edge en route to a 5-1 victory over Oakridge in the Division 3 state quarterfinals at Traverse City West High School.

Oakridge finished with a 29-6 record, and the most single-season softball wins in school history. The Eagles also advanced beyond regionals for the first time in program history.

“We proved we belonged there today,” said Oakridge coach Joe Coletta, whose team tied for the West Michigan Conference title this year. “If not for the slow start, we competed very well throughout the game.

“This was a great experience. There’s just no other way to describe it. We learned a lot. This is not going to be the last time of competing at this level. We got a taste and now we want to go back and finish it.”

Gladstone loaded the bases in the first inning with a walk, a hit batter and a bunt single. Then Beaudry ripped the double to the gap that put her team in the lead for good.

Gladstone added two runs in the sixth inning.

Taylor Hall had an RBI single for Oakridge in the sixth, but the Eagles could get no closer.

Oakridge loaded the bases in the fifth inning, following singles by Alyssa Fessenden, Hannah Reinhold and Hall, but couldn’t score. The Eagles also stranded two runners in the fourth.

“We got people on base with an out or two outs, but we just couldn’t get the rally,” Coletta said. “We loaded the bases and couldn’t get that timely hit that you need in softball to get over the hump.

“It was a great ball game. It was not out of reach. They had the timely hits and they took advantage of the walks and that was the difference. The double with the bases loaded.”