The Holton softball team’s 37-game winning streak ends with a 4-1 loss in the Division 4 state semifinals

By Adam Knorr

EAST LANSING – The Holton softball team’s first loss of the season turned out to be its last.LSJ Logo incert

That sometimes happens when a team enters the postseason with a perfect record.

After an incredible run of 37 straight victories, the Red Devils saw their season come to a disappointing end Friday with a 4-1 loss to Unionville-Sebewaing in the Division 4 state semifinals at Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium.

Holton's Jacki Stone dives back toward third base. Photo/Jason Goorman

Holton’s Jacki Stone dives back toward third base. Photo/Jason Goorman

It was a painful repeat of the 2013 semifinals, when Holton lost to the same team by one run.

“This season sure was fun,” said Holton senior outfielder Jacki Stone. “It didn’t end how we wanted. We didn’t reach our goal but we sure tried. Nobody ever gave up. I wish we could have won it but USA did a great job and so did we.”

The main problem for Holton on Friday was Unionville-Sebewaing’s junior pitcher, Nikki Bauer, who scattered four hits, struck out 11 and only walked one.

Holton (37-1) had runners on the corners in the first inning, but Bauer worked out of the jam with a strikeout to keep the Red Devils off the scoreboard.

Following the rocky first inning, Bauer retired 11 consecutive Holton batters.

Holton’s senior pitcher Rachel Younts took a no-hitter into the fourth inning, but back-to-back-to-back two-out hits gave the Patriots a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the frame.

The Patriots followed up with another run in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of a two-out double from junior Kayla Gremel.

Rachel Younts winds up to deliver the pitch for Holton. Photo/Jason Goorman

Rachel Younts winds up to deliver the pitch for Holton. Photo/Jason Goorman

Holton broke through in the top of the sixth as Stone roped a two-out triple down the right field line to score senior Ashley Friend.

Stone, a Ferris State commit, finished 2-for-3 at the plate.

Unionville-Sebewaing (37-3) added its final run in the sixth when Bauer scored from third on a suicide squeeze bunt by freshman Katie Englehardt.

Younts threw all six innings for Holton, giving up seven hits, one walk and four earned runs while striking out seven.

Five of the six Holton seniors – Stone, Younts, Friend, Kaylee Slowik, Katie Wildfong – started in the semifinal matchup.

“That’s one of the better classes of kids Holton has had come through in a long time,” said Red Devils Coach Kirk Younts. “We’ll be back. We have a strong group of kids coming in from the JV team. I told them today, we will be back here next year so get used to it.”

The seniors have left a strong tradition of hard work and excellence for the younger girls to build on, according to Friend, the Red Devils’ standout catcher.

Kayla Cross gets ready to round third base to score Holton's lone run. Photo/Jason Goorman

Kayla Cross gets ready to round third base to score Holton’s lone run. Photo/Jason Goorman

“I want (next year’s team) to work as hard as we do,” Friend said. “I want them to have as much confidence. I want them to push themselves like we do.”

The season-long slogan for Holton has been “We are one.”

The accuracy of that motto was obvious, as a swarm of red clad fans who made the long drive from Holton stomped and chanted throughout the game.

Following the loss, the Red Devils were greeted by a sign-waving, cheering tunnel made up of their hometown supporters.

“We are one,” Rachel Younts said. “We’re going to give God all the glory. We’re a family.”

Wildfong and Slowik collected a hit apiece, but Stone picked up Holton’s sole extra base hit.

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